Pennington County Care Campus opens its doors

Around seven years after its conception, Pennington County’s new $14M Care Campus is now open. It’s purpose is to give the Rapid City’s most vulnerable people the tools to rise out of homelessness and poverty.

The campus is located where the old National American University campus was in Rapid City, across from the Public Safety Building. The Care Campus combines social services such as detox, mental health treatment, and crisis care under one roof.

It’s hoped the project will help solve long term problems, like homelessness and substance abuse in the community. Barry Tice, the health and human services director for Pennington County, hopes the campus can be used as a model for similar sized communities across the country.

“This demonstrates to our entire nation that communities can come together and formulate a plan that’s efficient for taxpayers and is efficient for the clients that are using it,” Tice said.

With winter right around the corner, the project’s completion couldn’t come at a better time. The campus also provides a safe space for intoxicated people to spend the night when temperatures are below freezing, increasing accountability from last years ‘warming shelters.’

“It keeps them out of the cold, and while they’re here, we try to engage some of the folks using safe solutions and alternatives and looking at the next steps,” said Tice.

The facility also sets new precedents by having an entire unit for women.

The Care Campus also aims to save taxpayers money, ending the expensive cycle of incarceration, then arresting the same people after they’re released.

“It can be a jail diversion, as opposed to spending $80 a day to house somebody at the jail,” said Pennington County Sheriff Kevin Thom, who has made it a point of his administration to lower the jail’s population. “Because then you’re spending public defender time, states attorney time, court time. You spend a lot of other resources in addition to jail time.”

The grand opening of the care campus is this Wednesday at 10 a.m.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News