Advocates hope to provide accurate count of Rapid City’s homeless population

Published: Jan. 24, 2023 at 8:45 PM CST
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Black Hills Regional Homeless Coalition, supported by Volunteers of America, was tasked this year to conduct a Point in Time, or PIT Count, to get an accurate head count of those living without a home in the Rapid City community.

These counts are required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, to identify the gaps in housing services, and to allocate funds in an appropriate way.

The Homeless Coalition’s administrator Amy Richie said that this is especially important in an area that’s seen an upward trend in the homeless population.

“These numbers directly affect the amount of federal funding that the resources and providers in this area get,” Richie said. “Without an accurate count, we’re not getting enough funding to take care of the problems at hand.”

These problems are expected to persist as the national economy only shows minimal signs of improvement.

HUD says the requirement for someone to be counted is if they take shelter in a place not meant to be inhabited by a human.

“Sleeping on the streets, in a car, in a park, in a storage unit. Also, people who lack basic utilities,” Richie said. “Water, sewer, bathroom, and cooking facilities are also considered at this point. HUD is saying if you’re living somewhere, but don’t have electricity or sewer, that also qualifies as homeless.”

The count was conducted at Wilson Park Tuesday, and also takes place at Rapid City Skate Park Wednesday and Thursday.

Donations of food and warm clothing are available at the events.