Limited access to bathrooms cause downtown Rapid City businesses to clean up

With access to restrooms limited, many homeless people are relieving themselves in alleyways.
Published: Sep. 9, 2020 at 6:38 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Rapid City downtown businesses and the Hope Center are looking for a solution to a smelly problem.

With access to restrooms limited, many homeless people are relieving themselves in alleyways.

When you got to go, you got to go.

But where to go is the question.

With the pandemic limiting access to public restrooms and most businesses offering services to customers only, downtown businesses are paying the price.

“Two or three times a week where we are having to clean up fecal matter and then constant urination is happening back here," one of the Hay Camp Brewing Company owners, Sam Papendick, said.

Hope Center staff members also put on the gloves especially when neighbors complain about the messes.

And at times, “it’s been hostile and we have some angry folks that contact us” said Melanie Timm, the executive director of the Hope Center.

While she understands the community’s frustration, she said it’s out of their control and out of their clients' control.

“When you don’t have options, this is one of those things that it’s...just apart of being a human being and what are you suppose to do?" she said.

A question Autumn Two Bulls, who was homeless for a few weeks in the past, has asked herself.

“Oh yeah I completely understand what the struggle is to be homeless," Two Bulls said. "The restrooms. You know finding places to shower. You know finding places to sit and rest for a while. And you know keep warm.”

That’s why Papendick said there needs to be a solution.

“If we want to be Visit Rapid City and we want to be the place where the Black Hills tourists come in the hub, yeah this needs to be addressed," he said.

But what can be done to alleviate this problem?

“I would like to see the city open up porta potties in different places of the city to try to combat this issue," Two Bulls said. "You know work hand and hand with people because the homeless population is not going away. It’s not a situation that you can sweep under the rug.”

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