Rapid City and Journey On team up to bring more resources, assistance to homeless residents

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Approximately 65 percent of calls to the Rapid City Police Department and 40 percent of calls to the fire department involve an issue pertaining a homeless individual. However, taking these calls diverts officers and first responders from situations where their skills may be needed more.

Legal And Finance Meeting Fire And Police DeptThis is where Journey On comes into the picture.

Journey On is a Rapid City non-profit that works to provide homeless residents with resources and help they may need.

As part of an agreement with the city, Journey On will work with other local organizations. Included are organizations such as Volunteers of America along with Pennington County Health and Human Services.

From there, they will provide further resources and assistance to the homeless such as housing.

“The main point of the plan is to reduce the amount of interaction the police have with homeless who are not breaking the law,” Mayor of Rapid City Steve Allender explained, “And to replace them with individuals who have more time and expertise in making referrals and getting folks the help the need.”

On Wednesday afternoon, the Legal and Finance Committee approved allocating $300,000 in project funds for RCPD. Half of the money will go to Journey On.

Observing success will happen in different sections.

“In the beginning we’ll measure success by the number of contacts and referrals that are made. The mid-term goals are to start seeing a reduction in the number of people living outdoors,” he said. “And then the long-term success will be measured primarily by the drop in calls for service for our law enforcement.”

With the agreement, members of Journey On will receive police training in areas such as how to engage and defusing situations before they start.

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