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Homelessness shouldn’t be made political in Rapid City Mayor’s eyes

With cold weather already here, homelessness has been a hot topic in Rapid City for the last few weeks. And the issue was reignited Friday night.
Published: Oct. 19, 2020 at 6:18 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - With cold weather already here, homelessness has been a hot topic in Rapid City for the last few weeks.

And the issue was reignited Friday night during what Rapid City police called a protest, but those involved insist they were merely trying to feed and shelter those in need.

Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender says homelessness is a major issue in town, but he says this weekend’s events weren’t strictly about the homeless.

“Homelessness is a very serious thing in every community, and Rapid City is no exception but the issue on Friday night with the tipis had literally nothing to do with the homeless,” said Allender. “It had to do with fighting the government, fighting the local government.”

The arrests of the homeless activists and the teardown of Friday night’s camp led to creating a new camp. One outside Rapid City’s jurisdiction.

“There are homeless that need services, indoor services, such as shelter, food, alcohol or drug treatment, mental health treatment and they will not get that in an outdoor camp,” said Allender. “So, I think the risk for the outdoor individuals at the outdoor camp is very high.”

The mayor said homelessness couldn’t be the prime issue Rapid City’s government focuses on.

“We have 75,000 people whose interest we have to protect, whose property we have to manage and take care of, and whose resources we have to administer,” said Allender. “So 50 or 100 individuals who cannot or will not make it on their own, cannot be the only focus of a government organization.”

Allender said select advocacy groups are making this issue politicized, and that is a position that doesn’t help.

“Select advocacy groups are absolutely trying to make this about more than homelessness, and again I think that’s how you fail to serve the homeless, is by politicizing their issue,” said Allender.

We reached out to the Creek Patrol and NDN Collective to get their comments but haven’t heard back.

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