Policy changes coming to Cornerstone Rescue Mission

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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - Big changes are coming to Rapid City's largest homeless shelter.

Beds at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission in Rapid City. (KEVN)

The problem is there are too many homeless in Rapid City and not enough space to care for them.

In past years, Cornerstone Rescue Mission's policy was that there was always room for one more, even if it meant sleeping on the floor.

Turning away anyone was rarely an option.

Normally people eat at the cafeteria of the Mission, but when there's too much overflow, women and children sleep on the floor.

But starting next month, people can no longer do that.

The shelter has 58 beds.

On one of their busiest nights, the shelter had just one staff member for every 133 guests.

Executive Director Lysa Allison says it's a safety and security issue.

"There were a couple of nights where we really had no more sleeping space, and we were almost having to sleep in shifts. I had staff that were near tears because they wanted to help these people, but we didn't have any space," Lysa Allison says, executive director of the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

Last year the Mission helped more than 340 people find housing.

In the past, guests could stay as long as they needed, but soon they'll be limited to 90 days.

"It's good for the community because it's more jobs and then that way we can move other people in and off the waiting list. Theoretically, we can help more people along throughout the year," Allison says.

"With this, there's no day labor, no type of jobs floating around, you're going to find more people sleeping out on the streets," Patrick Yellow Boy Jr. says, a man who used to stay at the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

When people do end up on the waiting list, Allison says they try to help them rebuild relationships with their families so they have somewhere to go.

Goldie Hayes is staying at the Cornerstone Women and Children's Home.

She describes herself as houseless, not homeless.

"A lot of it depends on the people and the circumstances, the situation. I mean 90 days is three months. Now three months is a long time, but for some people who struggle, three months is not a long time," Goldie Hayes says.

Allison says the Mission works closely with the Rapid City Police Department and the Care Campus to address addiction and homelessness.

The permanent changes start July 1st.

Allison says they're also considering working with churches to see if families are willing to take in any homeless folks.