Rapid City community grapples with homeless issue

RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - On Wednesday, Rapid City held a vigil for a homeless couple who died in the cold; and some people are now calling for the city to do more for the homeless community.

Former member of the Rapid City Creek Patrol, Dawn Yellow Bank, says “I don't want to see any more Native American people die because of cold weather, of being turned away from the mission, for whatever reason, I don't want to see any more people die."

Four homeless people have already died this winter season, all from hypothermia conditions.

The Rapid City Police Department and Cornerstone Rescue Mission provide assistance to the homeless.

Cornerstone houses more than 100 people at their location on Main Street and 36 at their women's facility on Fifth Street. But there are requirements to stay at their facilities.

“We can't take them if they are on no trespassing or if they're high or if their intoxicated or if they're violent, then we can't take them," explains Lysa Allison, executive director of the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. "But what we do is we will still call law enforcement who will come and get them and take them to detox or some other place that, where it is appropriate for them to be."

But Yellow Bank thinks the homeless need to be more of a focus.

"Just this winter, right now that I can think of, four individuals have died. They have froze to death. And I don't understand how that could happen if the Rapid City Police Department was doing their job," states Yellow Bank.

When people aren't able to stay at Cornerstone, some have found refuge in pop up shelters.

"I would just say that their hearts are in the right place. We are grateful for the assistance but it's really difficult when there's no consistent location,” says Allison. “What I would say to that is go ahead and call law enforcement for the people who are intoxicated and for the people who are sober, we can handle those.”

Yellow Bank also says she would like to meet with the Rapid City Police Department and Mayor Steve Allender to help bring back the Rapid City Creek Patrol.

Temperatures have already begun to drop and will continue to be below freezing the next few days so if you see someone in need call the Rapid City Police Department.