Bishop Dudley House Irks Neighbors with Safety Concerns

Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses… the wretched refuse… wait, did we say that?

The Bishop Dudley Hospitality House opened at Indiana and 8th Street in Sioux Falls in January. The new homeless shelter has helped 357 men, 116 women, and 30 families in a total of 8,000 visits* in the last three months (hey, Mayor Huether, what’s that I hear about Sioux Falls having lots of jobs?).

Alas, having a facility to help the poor means the poor will come around more often. Evidently, the neighbors don’t like that:

Business owners in the area — like Rick Ahlers — say they’ve seen more problems since the shelter opened.

“I’ve had a couple of Native Americans out here fighting in the parking lot two weeks ago and I called 9-11 because I’m just not going to put up with it. I’m not going to go out there and ask them to leave. I’m not going to put up with it. I’m just going to call 9-11 and have the police do their job,” said Ahlers [Tess Hedrick, “Business Owners Say More Disorder Since Shelter Opened,” KSFY, 2015.04.06].

Sioux Falls police appear to be responding appropriately (to anyone getting into fistfights, not just Native Americans, we hope):

As expected, Sioux Falls Police say the number of 9-11 calls in the four-block area have increased and so have patrols.

“You’re going to see a lot of different activities especially with officers on foot, on bike patrolling, in the cars and getting officers assigned to work down here specifically for that reason,” said Sioux Falls Police Officer Jim Larson [Hedrick, 2015.04.06].

Homeless people are going to go where they can get services. Homeless people, given their higher rates of chemical dependency and mental illness, are going to bring public safety issues to wherever they go for services.

But where are we supposed to put homeless services like the Bishop Dudley shelter—out in the middle of a cornfield in Turner County? Out in Tuthill Park? Up by Wal-Mart on Marion Road?

A homeless shelter isn’t a landfill that you put out past the edge of town where no one can smell it. A homeless shelter is a service you put in the neighborhood where the people in need are to minimize the resources they have to expend to get to it and thus allow them to save as many resources as they may need for other necessities, like clean clothes for their kids, or bus fare or a used bike to get to work on Cliff Avenue.

Placing services for the homeless on a specific block may increase the need for police work around that block. But would the Whittier neighborhood be better off if the Bishop Dudley House weren’t there providing any services at all? Would the neighborhood be safer if those homeless folks were left to fend for themselves?

We’ve got to help the poor, and that help has to happen in specific places. Done right, that social assistance makes everyone safer.

*Correction 18:15 CDT: An eager reader provides a useful correction! In my original text, I sloppily repeated KSFY’s statement that “the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House has served more than 8,000 people.” My eager reader provides the more accurate numbers above, based on what the reader heard Dudley House exec Chad Campbell say at a community meeting last night.

Lest you think, “Oh, only a few hundred homeless! Nothing to worry about,” my eager readers shares a number of other sobering statistics about the depth of poverty in South Dakota’s Premier city:

Another astounding number is that 46.9% of students in the Sioux Falls school district, more than 23,000 total, so roughly 11,000+ students live in families who qualify for free and reduced meals, said another way ‘nearly half of all the children in Sioux Falls schools live in families who are in poverty’.

Yet another astounding number is that there are 3,600 households on the waiting list at Sioux Falls Housing for help, and the wait is more than 4 years long.

Weekly, more than 400+ households come to the weekly Faith Temple food giveaway, and more than 100+ families come to the Food To You giveaway on several Thursdays of the month (families can participate only once per month). Both of these faith-based ministries are helped mightily by Feeding South Dakota [reader e-mail, 2015.04.07].

Again, Mayor Huether, what’s this I hear about Sioux Falls having jobs? How about instead of billboards for folks passing through, you focus on connecting those jobs with the people living in your streets and not getting paid enough to feed their kids?

41 Responses to Bishop Dudley House Irks Neighbors with Safety Concerns

  1. I would rather have a CAFO next door than a house of drunken misfits.

  2. Paul Seamans

    Sam; the problem with CAFO’s is that you don’t need to be just next door to be affected by them. Your air quality can be fouled for miles, your water for much further. Me, I’ll take the Bishop Dudley type houses. Homelessness isn’t just the people sleeping on grates, a lot of the homeless are living in their cars or in motels.

  3. I’ll take living next or near a Bishop Dudley type house any day then next to or be in an area, downstream or even have my ground water contaminated by a CAFO. With being in close proximity to a CAFO my Asthma would worsen and I may be at increased risk of antibiotics becoming less effective, suffering from MERS if I need to go to a medical facility and/or contracting some mutated virus that originated in these jam packed miserable condition, walmart industrial animal operations.

    Besides there is a good chance I’d periodically volunteer at a Bishop Dudley type house if I lived nearby. Many CAFOs are taxpayer subsidized and they bring in immigrant workers at lower wages that displace local workers, contribute little to the local economy since many of those imported workers will send their money to their family in their home country.

  4. Nick Nemec

    Here’s a reminder for all the self professed Christians out there.

    34Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:

    35 for I was hungry, and ye gave me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink; I was a stranger, and ye took me in;

    36 naked, and ye clothed me; I was sick, and ye visited me; I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

    37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed thee? or athirst, and gave thee drink?

    38 And when saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?

    39 And when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?

    40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it unto one of these my brethren, [even] these least, ye did it unto me.

    41 Then shall he say also unto them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels:

    42 for I was hungry, and ye did not give me to eat; I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink;

    43 I was a stranger, and ye took me not in; naked, and ye clothed me not; sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

    I can find no similar admonition concerning CAFOs.

  5. Nick Nemec

    The Gospel of Matthew chapter 25.

  6. bearcreekbat

    Back in the early 1980’s Rapid City had no homeless shelter at all. Then an ambitous young Dave Adams and his family moved to Rapid. He rented a large house in the gap near Halley Park and opened it up to the homeless, calling his place the Cornerstone Rescue Mission.

    The neighbors complained and the City attorney filed a nuisance action seeking an injunction to close down the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. The circuit court ruled against the City, but the State Supreme Court reversed so the injunction was granted.

    Several concerned folks came forward to help Adams’ find an alternative location. Ironically, Adams Cornerstone Rescue Mission ended up in the old city administration building on Main Street, where it still helps the homeless today. Due to the caring nature of most Rapid Citians, the Mission has expanded expotentialy, with shelters for families, abused women, and providing meals and a variety of social services to our city’s homeless. With the right attitude, perhaps Sioux Falls will ultimately move in the same positive direction.

    Dave Adams was the type of evangelical that focused on helping the down and out, rather than trying to control the private lives of everyone else, although he did require those people who stayed at the Mission to listen to one sermon each time they stayed overnight.

  7. bearcreekbat

    Here is a link to the State Supreme Court decision:

  8. Don Coyote

    The Whittier neighborhood has a higher concentration of services for the poor than any other neighborhood in SF. The Banquet, Union Gospel Mission, St Francis House and the Salvation Army Transitional Housing for example in addition to the Bishop Dudley House. The complaint of the neighborhood is that this concentration is slowly eroding property values and bringing more crime to a neighborhood that already struggles with a higher crime rate than average. The city has been intent on moving the poor out of the gentrified downtown area so their Potemkin Village looks “bootiful” and turning a deaf ear to Whittier’s gradual ghettoizing.

  9. I’d feel unsafe in any neighborhood with “Don Coyote” in it.

  10. I understand the concerns of the Whittier neighborhood, but at the same time you need to put homeless facilities where the homeless are. Building it out by the airport or on the outskirts of town would prevent it from being utilized, so they put it where there was demand.

    Obviously there is a need to address the concerns the neighbors have – and if that requires increased police presence or private security patrols then so be it. We need to look towards solutions rather than complain about the existence of a facility which is only meant to help those who are in most need.

    Would I want to live next door to it? Honestly not at all… so I am sympathetic even though I recognize it is for the greater good.

  11. Roger Cornelius

    In the very large neighborhood of South Dakota I have more fear of the state’s congressional delegation, governor, and the republican led state legislature in Pierre than I have fear of any homeless person in Rapid City.

    I’ll have to accept it as fact that only drunk Native Americans have fist-fights in Rick Ahlers parking lot, we all know that non-Native Americans don’t get drunk in parking lots and have fist-fights.

  12. I thought the best place for the Bishop Dudley House was right next to the cathedral.

  13. In MN, Dudley was accused by two girls of molesting them back in the 50s. I don’t remember if it went to court or not.

  14. bearcreekbat

    As for fearing the homeless, Roger is right, some of our state and federal lawmakers seem much more dangerous.

    As a matter of fact, before Dave Adams came to Rapid City several friends and I worked with the Mother Butler Center and our City emergency people to staff the Center’s gym during the winter nights so homeless folks wouldn’t freeze to death. We borrowed cots and blankets from the City and prepared a vat of soup each night along with some coffee. We had several homeless individuals, both male and female, show up during each Winter night we stayed open, and never once did anyone threaten us or become ugly, not even those folks who were intoxicated. Indeed, the folks staying there were typical friendly and thankful.

  15. mike from iowa

    Don’t it seem ironic that wingnuts have no use for the poor and homeless,but their social policies tend to create more poor and homeless and then they get punished because of it?

  16. mikeyc, that's me!

    They should all be located next to Walmarts.

  17. Douglas Wiken

    If you have your car windows smashed, batteries stolen, gloveboxes rifled, tools stolen, etc. , you might have a slightly different perspective. The police and sheriff’s offices don’t want to mess around with minor theft. They would rather chase a stolen car until it is totally wrecked and drivers end up dead and maimed or some innocent driver gets crashed into.

    There may be a problem about getting the cart in front of the horse, but having the cart on a mile long rope behind the horse is also not a good idea.

  18. RCPD won’t investigate a hit and run even when the store camera has it logged.

  19. bearcreekbat

    Doug, No I wouldn’t. I believe there is a difference between criminals and the homeless. Criminals come in all sizes from Bernie Maddow to the guys who smashed a windshield. Just because someone is temporarily homeless it does not follow from either logic or my own experience that he or she is a criminal.

  20. mike from iowa

    Some people want to make homelessness a crime. If you can push homeless people out of sight,they are out of mind and we can get on with more tax cuts for the koch bros. god it feels good to say koch bros again. Haven’t said that in a while.

  21. Roger Cornelius

    Once again we have some regulars that make comments that are laden with misconceptions and stereotypes of the homeless community, I doubt that they have had experiences involving the homeless.
    For the past fifteen years I have lived in a studio apartment one block form the Cornerstone Rescue Mission. I vehicle has never been vandalized, homeless people aren’t banging on my door begging for money, my windows are all intact and have I never been assaulted or threatened. Drunks, Indian or White, or not having fist fights in my parking lot.
    Since the homeless don’t wear name tags labeling themselves as such I don’t really know who they are.
    Those that I do know that are homeless treat me with courtesy and respect, once in a great while they may ask if I have a chore for them do to earn some money, which I usually do.

  22. Mr. C is right as usual. Did you know that the Fairmont Creamery building not too far from there which has fancy beers and offices in it is also never bothered by homeless people? There are even some popular eateries in the area and none save Carls Jr. are bothered by the homeless and that’s only because they have to use the restrooms in there some times

  23. There is a small percentage, I’d reckon to say, that are ‘homeless’ panhandlers and make a living of it. You know, the signs where they need a job and are homeless vets. I never give to those mostly able-bodied men. Some of them make 40/hr on a good day taking advantage of good people giving them money.
    The money goes right back into the illegal drug and alcohol industry to feed their addictions.

    Choose who you give to wisely.

  24. Roger – Mr. Ahlers appears to be speaking about a specific incident and therefore he describes the parties involved. He didn’t suggest all the problems involve Native Americans, nor did he suggest there aren’t fights involving other races in other parking lots. I’m optimistic that we aren’t at a place where we have to fear describing people involved, because when I witnessed a fist fight on Phillips Avenue a couple of years ago I didn’t hesitate at all to describe the men involved as one morbidly obese 6’2″ white man, and one average weight 6’0″ white man.

    I’m no expert, but if I have any desire for the police to identify suspects I’m going to be as descriptive as possible – and like it or not race is a descriptor just as is sex, height, weight, and the color of clothing they happen to be wearing at the time.

  25. I agree Jenny – if someone wants to help the homeless their dollar goes much further if given to a shelter or program. Those facilities can stretch funds into multiple meals and they know where the demand is.

    If someone donates to an individual they have no idea where the money goes. There is a good chance it will be used for food, shelter, or a warm coat… but we just never know. I’d feel pretty horrible if I found out the funds were feeding an addiction.

    KELO did an undercover story a few years ago by placing fake panhandlers around the city to see how much they collected in donations. I don’t recall specifics, but it was far more than minimum wage and they aren’t paying any taxes. I think the girl near the Empire Mall was on target to make around $50/hr. It is unfortunate that there are those among us who prey upon the generosity of others.

  26. Remember a Seinfeld episode with the “Soup Nazi”?

    This article was in the Sunday Minneapolis/Star Tribune with a church in Minneapolis serving soup in it’s basement to homeless called “The Soup for You Café”

    This is such a cool story with what sounds like absolutely delicious organic vegetarian soup made by a former homeless chef who is originally from Tunisia. Anyone can come and there is no requirement to pay but many who are not homeless can sit at the same table with someone who is homeless and not know. Wait staff are volunteers and one thing that resonates for me is besides providing a healthy tasty fairly inexpensive meal with good company is how everyone is treated with dignity.

  27. bearcreekbat

    There are charities and there are charities. When your donation to a charity is used to pay to send out junk mail and pay high salaries to those collecting the money, it would seem the intended beneficiaries of your gift are not really getting as much of your gift as you might expect.

    If someone asks me for money, who am I to suspect he or she will misuse whatever gift I choose to give? Who am I to judge these folks and assume the worst rather than the best? If I were in their shoes how would I want others to treat me? By showing respect and faith in someone who asks for help, perhaps we might even build self esteem rather than drag it further down.

  28. That’s your choice, bearcreek, your choice. Drug and alcohol addiction is a very serious disease process and I’m not going to contribute to it by giving money to an able-bodied man pretending he’s homeless. This is the real world, and I want to think the best in people but there are people that prey on the good ones and one needs to be realistic.
    I’ve been taken advantage of, I’m sure a lot of us have, and I intend on not being taken advantage of.
    The best line is when someone asks for money is “I’m broke, I don’t have any”. ;0. They’ll leave you alone as fast as you blink.

  29. BCB,

    What if you knew how that money was spent at a local charity,church or rather than giving that person money you offered to buy them a meal and sit down, eat and visit with them?

    Sorry but after living 15 years in the Twin Cities and most of it in Uptown I witnessed plenty of scammers. Addiction issues were everywhere in this high density area with one block away being very exclusive, my neighborhood being marginal and a few blocks east you would be at a much higher risk of getting robbed, apartment burglarized or whatever else crime related.

    The scammer examples range from fake Vietnam Vets standing at the Franklin & Lyndale stoplight that were obviously too young to have served in Vietnam(this is before Iraq) and when asked where they were stationed they could not come up with a name and they knew I was on to them and laughed to the rich goth kids posing as panhandlers in Uptown that were using the fake being poor kid as some type of life experience so they felt they could relate later. It was just a gig they had. This was the old Uptown from the mid to late 80’s and not the Gentrified wealthier Uptown you see today.

    An old college friend was visiting me in the Twin Cities for work and we were walking back from one of the best Pizza places in the cities and it was the best Pizza we ever had and we ran into a panhandler who was drunk and we found out he was from South Dakota also. We visited with him for a while and he was a nice guy but we did not want to give him cash to enable his addiction so we gave him what was left in our box that to this day was the best pizza we ever had. We still talk about it today and hope he was able to enjoy it and didn’t just throw it away.

  30. Troy Jones

    Most of the people staying at the Dudley House used to stay at the Salvation Army 4-6 blocks away. The Dudley House was conceived in response to the Salvation Army’s decision to close its homeless overnight services. While there has been a “shifting” to the west of the homeless shelter, they are part of the same neighborhood.

    That said, the Dudley House has larger capacity and is serving more guests so the incidences are naturally going to occur and naturally the police are learning how to deal with both a shifting of the location and the more guests. I’m pretty confident that both the neighborhood will return to some degree of normalcy as the police learns a few things. There is strong support in Sioux Falls to make this work for both the community and especially the guests of the Dudley House.

    While I have sympathy for the challenges in the neighborhood and by the businesses, in general as Cory alludes, the mental problems of many of the Dudley House guests leads to more nuisance type situations. In general, they are a greater risk to themselves than to others, aren’t violent, and not really even petty theft risks.

    Finally, with regard to Cory’s last comment, I’m not sure what he is trying to say besides maybe dig at Mayor Huether. However, any inference there is not concentrated and dedicated resources being deployed to assist the guests of the Dudley House beyond a bed and meal is false. In particular, the Dudley House actually has small offices for county relief agencies, the schools, day labor employers, and the St. Francis House (housing for the less transient and more ready to normally participate in society) to do their work.

    The Director of the DH is focused on identifying every guests there primarily because of circumstances so they can access “hand up” services. For those who are there because of mental issues, he is focused on getting them care to the extent it might help. If instead of hands to lift them up, they need love, the Dudley House is giving them that.

  31. bearcreekbat

    Lynn, I respect your experience – thanks for your insight. You are correct that bigger cities are a much different environment. In Rapid City, I liked to walk in the downtown area and parks in the afternoons and would get asked for money perhaps once or twice a month. When I visited Washington, DC a few short years ago, people appearing to be homeless literally lined the streets and made beds in the window wells of huge office buildings. People there asked me for money about every five minutes or less when I was on the street.

    I spent several years in Minneapolis when I was young and I recall being able to take public transportation downtown and spending time on Washington Ave around what people then called the “bums.” I recall going in tenements and talking with these “bums” on several occasions, even making friends with a few, as well as spending a great deal of time on the streets in South Minneapolis selling magazines door to door as a teenager. I never felt in danger and was never once attacked or harmed by someone who appeared down and out. My best friend still lives in Minneapolis and assures me that it is no longer safe for anyone on the streets, especially in South Minneapolis.

    Today, I just try to look at anyone who asks me for money as an individual, with his or her own individual wants, needs and desires. I accept their choices and will not expect them to agree with or live by my values. If by giving a little money to a person directly I can make that person smile and feel better, even for only a little while, I have met one of my charity goals. I like the idea of buying an individual a meal, and I have done that when someone tells me they need money for food.

  32. Troy Jones


    As a child of an alcoholic who died because of his drinking, I get the enabling point you are making. Feeding addiction is not good and it is especially bad if it is done to make one feel good about oneself as “helping the unfortunate.

    That said, rhetorically I ask, how is it really possible for these people to really “take advantage” of you? No matter how much you give, would they ever have more than you or would you trade places with them? Does lying to them that you are broke serve any purpose but ridding you of these “pests?” Do you think they believe you or do you think they think you are just another person who doesn’t care?

    While there may be exceptions, the vast preponderance of the homeless are either people who got dealt some really bad cards or have mental issues precluding them from participating in society. Those who might be able to re-join society need as many different of “hands up” as there are different causes for their situation. Those who are unlikely to ever rejoin need a bed, bath, and meal. But, in both cases, they need to know that the person walking by respects their humanity, even when they don’t get money put in their jar.

  33. mike from iowa

    Funny how some disadvantaged folks hire armies of lobbyists to collect more and more korporate welfare for themselves,but it isn’t called welfare. It is called ‘murrican enterprise or capitalism.

  34. Technically, I am broke, as I have a mortgage and credit card debt.

  35. When did you join the democrat party, Troy? :)

  36. Roger Cornelius

    A gift with strings attached is no gift at all.

    If you choose to give money to a panhandler that is risk you take, you don’t know how they will spend the money unless you spend the day with them and witness for yourself what they spend your money on.

  37. bearcreekbat

    Troy, nice comment – thanks!

  38. Troy Jones

    P.S. To be sure there is complete information, there is one policy change between the Dudley House and the Salvation Army- The Salvation Army didn’t accept guests who are drunk or high. The Dudley House does so long as the guest isn’t disruptive to other guests. Thus, some of the homeless have come out more into the open. I’ve heard that the “tent city” besides the railroad tracks/Great Bear (yes, literally by the railroad tracks) is significantly more empty since the opening of the Dudley House.

    I would not be surprised the serving those with substance abuse issues might be adding to some degree the problems concerning the neighborhood. They were somewhere but now the issue is concentrated which might actually allow law enforcement to have more concentrated efforts and make the city safer.

    Again, the concerns of the neighborhood needed to be addressed but I have every confidence all involved in dealing with this segment of our population and protecting the safety of the citizens are dedicated to do what the best they can.

  39. Most people are not against the concept of the Dudley House, but rather the process that lead to it being placed in that locale and the ensuing problems.

    I have empathy for those that have come to a troubled time in their lives but also have great empathy for the businesses and home owners located in that locale that incur problems–whether it be public urination or physical fights.

    “Enlightened” city personnel who have expertise and supposed knowledge could have worked harder and maybe longer to help those with this mission find a more workable location. (That responsibility is not my job so please don’t ask me where that might have been–I do not know. ) But I am mighty sick of the Sioux Falls City staffing that aren’t willing to roll up their sleeves and do the hard work for the RESIDENTS (all of them) of Sioux Falls.

  40. That is the $64 question, Mary: where is the ideal location for a homeless shelter?

    No business or homeowner should have to bear the extra burden of hosting such a facility next door; it thus behooves the city to provide more security… which that SFPD appears to be doing.

  41. Troy Jones

    This is an ideal location for the Dudley House.

    In the neighborhood was the former Salvation Army shelter and the other shelter in town (Union Gospel Mission), it is a few blocks from the St. Vincent dePaul “store” where they can get clothes, shoes and coats, it is a block from the Banquet where DH guests can get meals, it is a few blocks from Avera’s free community drop in clinic for basic care, and just a few blocks from the St. Francis House complex.

    It would be nonsense to locate it far from the Banquet and require them to walk across town to sleep. One must remember that some basic skills we take for granted are lacking in a substantial percent of our homeless.

    But, Mary’s comment about local residents and businesses having to deal with issues not experienced in other places in town. The SFPD is focused on this and I’m sure with experience will get a better handle on strategies and tactics to minimize the impact. The DH itself is also exploring strategies and tactics to encourage guests to stay at or near the DH while at the same time being able to protect small children not in school (Its easier to control a few hundred people when they are sleeping).

    Sidenote: There is a park a block or two to the North of the DH. I know it has been suggested the park be closed to the public and dedicated to DH/Banquet adult guests. In order to incentivize the guests to hang out there, the city would have to relax their no alcohol policy because it is those guests who are likely causing the problems Mary is referencing. I have no idea where that idea is at in the process or it got rejected for things I haven’t thought of. Personally, I think this has a side benefit as the teens who currently use that park might be better off utilizing the Whittier basketball courts anyway.