Housing for the Homeless

Frequently Asked Questions

What is homelessness?

Homelessness is an extreme manifestation of poverty characterized by not having a residence. Homelessness occurs for a variety of reasons and can last for short or long periods of time.

Who is homeless?

Homelessness has no set profile. Individuals, families and children are homeless. The homeless include those who hold jobs and those who are unemployed. The homeless can include those with drug and alcohol dependencies, the disabled and the mentally ill. Homeless people also include seniors, veterans, disabled, victims of domestic violence, runaway youth, those suffering with substance abuse issues and people with HIV/AIDS.

What causes homelessness?

Lack of affordable housing and financial instability are the two main causes of homelessness — however, many factors contribute to each individual situation. These factors include unemployment or loss of a job, flight from domestic violence, mental illness, alcohol dependency or drug addiction.

What is emergency shelter?

Emergency Shelter is short term housing (30 days or less) for homeless adults and children who generally have no income. Help is offered on a first come first served basis. Some shelters allow individuals with substance abuse problems, while others do not. Most offer counseling and referral services.

What is transitional housing?

Transitional housing bridges the gap between emergency shelter and permanent affordable housing, allowing shelter recipients to continue on their path to self-sufficiency and independent living.  Transitional housing typically provides services to the tenants to assist them in gaining independence and moving to permanent housing within 18-24 months.

What is affordable housing?

Housing that is designed to be affordable to people with limited incomes.

What is the Continuum of Care?

The "Continuum of Care" links participants with services and facilities based on their level of need. The first stage of the continuum is to provide emergency shelter and basic/immediate needs and services to individuals and families. The second stage is to provide transitional housing and supportive services. The third stage is to provide permanent, supported housing. The final stage is to provide after-shelter services to former clients who have achieved permanent, stable housing.

What items can I donate and how can I do so?

Basic needs of most shelters include: trial sizes of hygiene products and twin size bedding – soap, shampoo, shaving cream, razors, toothbrushes, toothpaste, sheets, blankets, towels, washcloths etc. Clients need clothing, school supplies and household items.

What can I do as a volunteer and whom should I contact?

There are volunteer opportunities for individuals and groups at locations throughout South Dakota. Opportunities for individuals include tutoring a child, filling in at the reception desk, supervising the kitchen, organizing the kitchen stockroom, providing office assistance and participating in special events. Group opportunities include preparing and serving a meal, conducting a donation/fundraising drive, participating in special events and refreshing current facilities with paint, cleaning, landscaping etc.  You can contact your local resource provider and learn opportunities in your area.