RAPID CITY, S.D. — The Rapid City Council has approved a 2017 city budget that includes a quarter of a million dollars for a homeless shelter Mayor Steve Allender says is in danger of closing.

The mayor says the Cornerstone Rescue Mission is facing a loss of large grants from the Veterans Administration on top of a decrease in donations. The facility recently laid off seven employees.

“If they were to close, it would be a disaster for Rapid City. The homeless population would be out on our streets. We’d have them in our parking lots and under our trees in the parks,” Allender said.

Mission Executive Director Lysa Allison says the city funding will help but that the shelter is still facing a budget shortfall and also running out of beds. She tells the Rapid City Journal (http://bit.ly/2c0I0TB ) that with winter approaching, “it’s becoming a staff safety issue.”

Allison said they serve about 400 to 500 meals a day on top of providing beds. There are 98 beds at the men’s shelter and 36 at the women’s and children’s shelter. However, many people now sleep on the floor. The shelter employs a total of 57 part-time and full-time employees. They operate on a $4.5 million annual budget.

“I have 42 people sleeping on the floor, and it’s only September,” Allison said. “It’s becoming a staff safety issue.”

She said there is no place to move them and community agencies continue to bring people to Cornerstone.

“In the last several years, demand for services has gone up while private donations and other grant dollars have stagnated,” Allender wrote at a previous budget hearing. “Philosophically and ethically, I believe it is good business and a smart investment to attempt to rehabilitate the homeless rather than simply respond to the aftermath.”

The mayor said Wednesday that funding previously provided to the Ellsworth Task Force and Black Hills Vision will now be directed to the Rapid City Economic Development Partnership.

Allender said the money will be used to focus on workforce development to improve Rapid City’s economy.


Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com