YANKTON, S.D (KCAU) –The growing homeless population continues to be a problem nationwide and even in smaller Siouxland towns.
Yankton, South Dakota’s only homeless shelter hoped to tackle its rising homeless population by moving to a larger shelter but found that it was only a short-term solution to a growing problem.
“The poverty in our area it’s kinda hidden. It’s kinda concealed. If you don’t work in it, you don’t volunteer. If you’re not in it yourself, you might not know it’s here,” said Jesse Bailey, the executive director of Pathways.
In the center of Yankton County is a single homeless shelter, Pathways can house about 50 people but it’s not enough space for everyone.
“Now we are just seeing the need continue to increase. At times the list has grown to over a hundred people. In the past year that has happened two different times,” said Bailey.
It’s not the same people coming back. The organization has an 80 percent success rate.
“Our goal is to kinda break the cycle of homelessness we see in people. We want this to be the last stop before they move on successfully,” said Bailey.
“I achieved my legal license driving license for the first time in my life ever. I just graduated and got my GED. I’m waiting to go to truck driving class and I will still continue working here and working on the road,” said Brister.
Michael Brister stayed at Pathways with his family years ago. Today, he dedicates his time to help get others off the streets.
“He has been an excellent person for that role because he has been on both sides of it. So, he spent time here and he is a good example of success, and he can help coach our current clients through the program,” said Bailey.
“Even though you were kinda bad, there is a chance to change. It’s never too late. Remember that,” said Brister.
Hoping to continue to get more people off the streets and off the shelter’s waiting list, Pathways is in the process of expanding its housing.
“We want to be efficient with the resources we have and make sure that whatever change we make is gonna last for awhile so we don’t have this issue of a waiting list again,” said Bailey.
Sioux City also is struggling with a growing homeless population. The Gospel Mission also citing a long waiting list at its shelter.