Signs posted in downtown Rapid City say “It’s okay to say no to panhandlers”

RAPID CITY, S.D. – Rapid City is once again taking steps to deter panhandling in the downtown area.

You may see these signs downtown along 6th Street, between St. Joseph and Main Streets. They say “It’s OK to say NO to panhandlers” and provide a phone number to donate instead via text.

“People ask, ‘Why do homeless people hang out downtown?’ Because that’s where people are and people give them money. So they’ll keep hanging out as long as they’re getting paid for it,” said Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender. “And so we’re just asking, let’s stop paying them and use your money in a better way to provide better treatment that can make longer term difference for these individuals.”

Allender says if you would like to help the homeless, the best way is to help the organizations that are already doing so.

“Help the organizations that help the homeless. We don’t need anyone to start up their own new treatment program or their own new mentoring program,” said Allender. “We need to support the programs that are out there. So everything from the Cornerstone Rescue Mission, Hope Center, all the nonprofits that will be supporting. But what we should not do is try our best to keep these homeless individuals out on the streets. That is not a healthy environment for them.”

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The city has 24 signs that will eventually be posted while only a portion of them have gone up since last week. After receiving feedback from shop owners downtown, they will decide where to place the remaining signs.

Allender says this is a piece to the city’s strategy on combating homelessness throughout the area. At the council meeting Monday night, Rapid City will be moving forward with an agreement which partners with a local nonprofit, Journey On, in order to reduce the calls for service on police regarding the homeless and provide more effective programming through caseworkers.

He says the city has many tools already, such as the Care Campus and all the organizations under its roof, and will continue to leverage them to those willing to receive treatment.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News