Sioux Falls, S.D. - The winter weather is on its way and many people in Sioux Falls are looking for a warm place to stay. Many of us often take for granted the fact that we have a hot meal and a warm place to stay, but during the winter months others aren't so lucky.
“We have really rough winters here that last for a very long time and you can only get so much shelter sleeping under a bridge. So it’s so important that we have a place for people to go that’s warm and that is safe. We are kind of the last stop for people and if we close our doors just because we are full they're going to have no place else to go. We just want to make sure that we do accept people and if we have to line the hallways, that’s what we will do,” Stidd said.
Many local shelters are already beginning to see an increase in people coming in. Amanda Stidd is the Development Coordinator at the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House in Sioux Falls. She said the increase between the summer and winter months is usually gradual, but with the recent colder temperatures, they've been preparing for a major increase.
“Last year we averaged around 95 men when we have capacity for 80 and then we averaged around 27 women when we have capacity for 20. We’ve been called the beacon of hope,” Stidd said.
During the day the shelter functions much like a community facility and night services begin at 6:30pm. People can stop in and do laundry, take showers, get a hot meal, and a warm place to stay.
“If somebody comes in and we have any items available like hats and gloves and things that have been donated, we actually have a donation table in each of our day rooms and we set those items out. You know people donate clothing to us quite often. People have to have a place to go. Shelter is a basic necessity and we need to make sure that all of our neighbors have some place to go,” Sidd said.
Sidd said during the summer months, they tend to run about 65 percent full. In the winter months though she said they are almost always over capacity, adding cots and mats into the overnight rooms for anyone looking for shelter for the night. Sidd said the shelter won’t turn anyone away.
“I really think people are surprised. Sioux Falls isn’t a community where you see the homeless population necessarily very often unless you come to this part of town. So I think it is a shocking number in the fact that it’s been going up. I think is surprising to people as well,” Sidd said.
If you would like to, you can donate any winter clothing directly to the shelter.