- Associated Press - Monday, November 13, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - After spending two decades behind bars, Rick Roseland was released in 2016 to a world that looked vastly different than when he entered the prison system.

Technological changes, the advent of the internet and transformed social norms made re-entry into society a challenge and played a role in him ending up on the street and sleeping in a different place every night for six months.

Knowing he wanted more out of his second chance, Roseland turned to the Sioux Falls metro’s network of social services and today has his own apartment, a dog and new lease on life.

“I wasn’t no saint, and I still ain’t,” the 61-year-old told the Argus Leader on Nov. 1, the day City Hall kicked off its Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Month to shine a light on poverty in Sioux Falls and highlight success stories in the community. “But if you try and you want to go forward, people are there to help.”

Stacey Tieszen, coordinator for Homeless Advisory Board that serves to harmonize city, county and non-profit social service agency efforts, said there’s plenty of opportunity to create more success stories like Roseland’s in Sioux Falls and Minnehaha County considering the number of people still living in poverty here.

She pointed to statistics from the schools, the county human services office and various homeless shelters in Sioux Falls. The Sioux Falls School District, for example, has identified 438 of its students as homeless so far this school year, the county has received nearly 1,200 applications for housing assistance from people living without a home this year, and the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House where Roseland spent a few nights last year had served 1,367 unique guests through October.

“The numbers … are very real and very, very scary for our community,” Tieszen said.

While dozens of non-profits and governments in the Sioux Falls area work tirelessly to help people like Roseland, Tieszen said it takes more to reduce, let alone end, homelessness. Chief among them is awareness and making the community come to grips with what’s going, she said.

That’s why this year, HAB is hoping to get everyday people who might not otherwise think about poverty’s place in Sioux Falls to volunteer their time or money to aid non-profits in their battle against homelessness.

Tieszen said this month her and other homeless advocates are distributing to-do lists outlining 14 different ways laymen and laywomen can get involved, such as attending a press conference, donating items to homeless shelters, participating in the Annual Walk a Mile event sponsored by the St. Francis House or riding public transit.

Taking those actions can give someone a glimpse into the life of a homeless person and inspire them to make change in the community, Tieszen said.

“We call them working poor, but I also call them very invisible,” she said. “We don’t know … because they’re struggling in silence.”


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

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