Councilor pushes for homeless workforce program

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KSFY) - A Sioux Falls city councilor says more needs to be done to help the homelessness.

The program Councilor Theresa Stehly is talking about gives the homeless a chance to enter the workforce and become self-sufficient as a result.

"People are homeless for a variety of reasons, and some of them have mental health issues and maybe physical disabilities," she said.

Several people spoke out about homelessness at Tuesday night's city council meeting.

They want to know what the city is going to do about it.

"You know when you are addressing issues of affordable housing, poverty and homelessness, there are a lot of creative ideas out there and learn from some of our peer communities," T.J. Nelson, the mayor's deputy chief of staff, said. "The mayor is really excited to work with the counsel and community to address a lot of those issues and bring forward some of those fresh ideas, to really take care of the problem and take care of those in need."

Stehly said she wants to help the homeless. She has looked into a workforce program for the homeless in Fort Worth, Texas and wants to see if it could work in Sioux Falls.

"I think a workforce idea of giving jobs and helping people to get a hand up is going to be a fabulous thing to investigate, and also, it will help people to get a work history because that is part of the system that they get caught into," she said. "They have no work history, they have no credit history, and so they're unemployable."

Stehly said many jobs go unfilled in the city. She would like to see the city help those without a job or a home get back on their feet.

"We are looking at more and more ways of helping those people in our community," she said. "There is a growing population of homeless individuals, and I'm grateful we've already got in places to feed them, we've got places to house them, and now we could be looking at a workforce option to help them become vibrant members of our community."

Stehly made a call to the Fort Worth, Texas mayor's office about the program to gather more information and see if it would be a good fit for Sioux Falls. She has not heard back from them at this time.

Right now, Nelson said they are interested in the idea, and they will be taking a closer look.