- Associated Press - Friday, January 9, 2015

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - The renovations aren’t done yet, but the nights are cold, and the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House wants to get Sioux Falls’ homeless out of abandoned cars or parking lot stairwells at night.

So the doors to the house will open Monday.

There are no bunk beds yet, but the new mattresses have arrived and were being piled high Thursday inside the facility. Electric saws roared in unison throughout the cavernous building. Volunteers - including street people who had come over from the Good Shepherd Center downtown - lugged boxes into the center.

There’s still a week to two weeks of finishing touches that will continue after it opens for business Monday, its executive director, Chad Campbell, told the Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/1xYIOih ). And it might be that people will be sleeping on the floor for a while, he added.

“It’s not ideal, but at least it’s out of the cold weather elements,” Campbell said. “There’s four walls. It’s 67 degrees in here, and sheltered. I guarantee you, on (Monday) we will have a line of people waiting outside our doors to come in to take respite in our building.”

Though the Sioux Falls Catholic Diocese bought the old warehouse for $750,000, and it will carry the name of former Catholic Bishop Paul Dudley, it has been a decidedly ecumenical effort to raise more than $4 million to serve the community’s poorest and most vulnerable citizens.

More than 1,000 donors have provided dollars, in-kind services and other goods, including at least 38 churches affiliated with any number of denominations throughout the area, said Jerry Klein, the Catholic diocese’s delegate for communications and social ministries.

“We got a check the other day, First United Methodist Church, who did their Christmas Eve collection and some other things, and gave us over $30,000,” Klein said. “That’s just one example. Lots and lots of churches are doing things.”

All the donations mean the Bishop Dudley house is nearing the $4 million-plus goal it has to cover renovation costs and to take care of operating expenses for the first three years. Klein hopes to announce the actual dollars raised on Monday during a ribbon-cutting gathering to bless the new center and open its doors.

Among the work to be finished is fencing outside that will allow guests to smoke or get fresh air, but also to enhance security so staff can monitor activity out there. Men and women are separated while on the property, and the outside fencing will continue that separation.

Campbell said exterior work like painting, landscaping, irrigation systems probably won’t be done until the spring.

“There are certain things you have to do in order to get occupancy for the building from the city,” Klein said. “We’ll be in a position to do that. It doesn’t mean there won’t be things that have to be finished up, but nothing that goes toward the operation of the building.”

From the start, Bishop Dudley house will provide overnight shelter to between 80 and 90 men, and 20 to 25 women. There is housing for seven families as well. All will be separated, and guests will have to go through a security check when they arrive to ensure they are not bringing weapons, alcohol or other unwanted items into the building

The Good Shepherd Center, which provides day shelter and services for the city’s street people, will start operating immediately in the Bishop Dudley house. Beyond that, Campbell said there are a number of other programs that will become a regular presence there once the staff and guests have settled in.

Face It Together Sioux Falls will provide addiction counseling services at the new center, he said. Veterans Homeless Outreach will come in as well. So will Lutheran Social Services’ Fatherhood and Families program, which works with men recently released from incarceration who need help with everything from getting an identification card to interviewing skills.

There will be some job training skills also provided from nonprofits that work in that area, Campbell said.

“We don’t want to create any programming that already exists in the community,” he said. “But we want to allow those in the community who do what they do well to have access to our guests. If we can coordinate that, we can become that one-stop shop location for trying to build your life back up.”

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com


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