Cornerstone Rescue Mission guidelines to limit occupancy, stay duration

RAPID CITY, S.D. — In less than two weeks, new guidelines at the Cornerstone Rescue mission will cut down on the number of people sheltered inside and the length of their stay.

“Back five years ago, I had eight people sleeping on the floor and now, I can have up to 75,” said Lysa Allison, executive director of Cornerstone.

Some nights at the mission, a single employee can be in charge of over 100 people. New guidelines beginning July 1 will limit that number to 58, the number of beds available.

In the city’s last budget, Cornerstone’s budget was cut roughly $70,000. Allison says their new guidelines are unrelated.

“This is really related to safety and security,” said Allison. “Having one staff for 122 people is just really dangerous for everybody involved.”

After those beds are full, visitors will be put on a wait list. They will be able to check the list daily at the soup kitchen.

“When you have all of those people sleeping on the floor, we’re in crisis mode,” said Allison. “We’re so busy working with those people that we don’t have the time and the staff to get people housed so when we can focus on the people in the emergency beds, get them housed and moved out. That creates another bed for somebody else.”

Women and children will no longer be allowed at the men’s mission at 30 Main Street beginning July 9. Instead, they will be encouraged to go to the women and children’s shelter which will be near doubling in size after adding 32 beds to their existing 36.

Another change coming is the duration of the stay. A 90-day limit will focus on one month of attaining employment followed by two months of savings to help with the cost of a security deposit and rent.

“They’ve always felt comfortable knowing they could come back and now they know they can’t come back for 90 days,” said Allison. “It might make them focus more on what they need to be doing instead of having this safety net.”

Cornerstone is the only emergency shelter in Rapid City and the surrounding area so the question is how do you get other organizations involved?

“Instead of referring them to the mission, we just ask that they try and house them themselves, maybe some churches can step forward and some families want to house the women and children,” said Allison.

Other partnerships with the city, through the Rapid City Police Department, Care Campus, and eventually One Heart Center, will aim to alleviate the homeless problem with hopes of a solution.

“We’re the mission,” said Allison. “We just keep moving, we don’t have any choice.”

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