Rounds Took Photo for Homeless Council in 2003, Then Dropped Project

The Interagency Council on Homelessness is another good example of Mike Rounds’s failure as governor.

Standing around for pictures to make Mike look good—Governor Rounds signs executive order creating Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2003.09.25. Photo from HUD.
Standing around for pictures to make Mike look good—Governor Rounds signs executive order creating Interagency Council on Homelessness, 2003.09.25. Photo from HUD.

During his first year in South Dakota’s big chair, Governor Rounds signed an executive order creating the Interagency Council on Homelessness. He said at the time that he was addressing the “need for increased and improved collaboration among State agencies which receive federal funding to address homelessness needs” and help South Dakota’s homeless residents “obtain training, employment, housing, and transportation.”

Good idea. Kudos for caring, right?

Governor Rounds apparently didn’t care enough to work past the photo op. We’re now hearing discussion of reviving the council that Governor Rounds  let drop:

South Dakota housing officials think state agencies could do a better job coordinating services for the homeless.

Then Gov. Mike Rounds created an Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2003 as a way to help state agencies work together to reduce homelessness across the state. They met a handful of times before going dormant.

Mark Lauseng, executive director of the South Dakota Housing Authority, said serious discussions began a few months ago to restart the council [Malachi Petersen, “State Homeless Council Could Be Revived,” that Sioux Falls paper, 2015.07.21].

The Interagency Council on Homelessness consisted of Governor Rounds, some of his Cabinet secretaries, and the South Dakota Housing Development Authority exec. Governor Rounds saw the fellow members of the council regularly and could have convened a meeting any time he saw fit. But apparently he was too busy with other projects that he was brewing up in 2003 to help South Dakota’s homeless population.

Once again, Mike Rounds was all talk and no action.

40 Responses to Rounds Took Photo for Homeless Council in 2003, Then Dropped Project

  1. bearcreekbat

    I am not a fan of Rounds, but the idea of trying to address homelessness is important public policy. Rather than criticize Rounds for not following through I would credit him for at least starting this inquiry.

  2. Roger Elgersma

    Soooo South Dakota. Find ways to spend more federal money while doing nothing yourself and then thinking you care and are responsible with money.

  3. Porter Lansing

    The hardest part of Gov. Daugaard’s day is trying to make his proper progressive Democrat leaning ideas sound like selfish, help the rich first plans that the capital “C” Conservative Hay-Billy coalition will swallow without our good liberal craft beers.

  4. Roger Cornelius


    It isn’t noble of Rounds to start the discussion on homelessness, he may have opened it up for discussion but did nothing about it, that is not noble at all.

    Rounds obviously used the opportunity for little more than a photo op.

  5. bearcreekbat

    Roger, the current Conservative/Republican dogma seems to demonize the homeless, using “dog whistle” terms to appeal to the racists in our mist. It makes me want to puke.

    If Rounds took a different approach by creating a commission to find solutions, I will give him positive credit, even if he dropped the ball and regardless of his motives. If someone can actually take even baby steps to do something to help others, I really don’t give a hoot about their personal motives.

  6. Assuming the two major places where their is chronically homeless is RC and SF, this is mostly a local challenge. In Sioux Falls, until the opening of the Bishop Dudley Hospitality House, the homeless challenge as dealt with by the County, Salvation Army, and St. Francis House.

    I think for every single year of being Governor, Governor Rounds came to the major (and essentially the only) annual big fundraiser for the St. Francis House, which provides shelter for men, women and families temporarily (vs. chronically homeless) homeless.

    While I welcome state agencies periodically examining what they can do to support local efforts, to large degree the challenge can and should be dealt with locally. Before being critical of the council going dormant, I’d like to know what they think the can accomplish and how they can help. I’m at a loss to think what the State can really do by having a bunch of meetings.

    There are a lot of reasons for liberals to criticize and disagree with Governor/Senator Rounds. I’m not sure anyone who is directly involved in the homeless has anything but praise for Rounds.

  7. mike from iowa

    Basically what they do is kick the can further down the road,see blue ribbon panel(s) on education again and again.

  8. mike from iowa

    Cossfire face off between an elephant with glasses v a hippie with a yellow sombrero.

    Credit or blame JAKvirginia for the sombrero remark.

  9. But Troy Rounds started The Interagency Council on Homelessness and ignored it from then on. At least that’s what it looks like.
    I have no proof but I’m guessing he used this a a ploy to help any future campaign.

  10. Owen,

    Interagency Councils are usually formed for two reasons.

    1) Eliminate duplication of programs or
    2) Increase coordination and communication between agencies.

    This one met a half dozen times. That actually may be as much as needed to accomplish whatever the goals Rounds set for this council. Mickelson formed one centering on Vocational Education that included the Secretaries of Education, Regents, GOED, Labor and for a reason I can’t remember Agriculture. My bet is they met 2-3 times at that level, it got delegated to various Division Directors (who have the actual staffs that needed to coordinate and communicate). I was one of those Division Directors. After awhile, the only remaining issues were between the Division of Voc. Ed and GOED where we met every few weeks for awhile and then monthly and by the time I left state government it was maybe quarterly.

    The fact he formed it via executive order appears to me it is related to federal programs/funds (likely short-term money). This is done because often the federal government needs a formal entity to administer the funds, not an informal working group and maybe included not state government entities.

    I guess my point is this thread gives no background on the real purpose and what its likely life cycle was. The fact it disbanded isn’t extraordinary. It would be more strange if it still existed after 12 years.

    Unless there is a federal stimulus for its being re-formed, my bet is the desire to re-form the Council is the players have all changed and it would be good to re-look at everything to see if things can be done better or resources re-allocated.

  11. troy, my knowledge of st. francis house is that it functions as a half-way house for DOC. A state function, not necessarily a homeless agency, unless you can explain otherwise.

    your assumption everyone else in the homeless business has praise for rounds is based on what?

  12. St. Francis House has no affiliation with the Department of Correction. It has no affiliation with the State. It is transistional housing for men, women, and children who are temporarily homeless. There is no charge for staying there or their food, I think the time limit is six months (with exception). If they are working, they are required to give SFH a portion of their earnings which is used for deposit and rent for when they leave SFH.

  13. why does DOC use SFH for half-way house purposes?

  14. Leslie,

    I think you are thinking of another house in Sioux Falls. I repeat: there is no association with SFH and DOC. None. Nada.

    If a guest is a former inmate, the person got there via a process unrelated to having been an inmate. The most common way guest some to SFH is referral from the county, school, or transition from the Dudley Hospitality House.

  15. Leslie,

    I stand corrected. There is a small number of guests who upon release who are sometimes given space at SFH under the DOC’s community transition program.

    It has been going on for a year. My more intimate knowledge of SFH was prior to this relationship. If you want me to delve more deeply, I suspect the guests who come from DOC would otherwise be homeless and warrant the transitional housing in accord with the SFH mission.

  16. Jake Cummings

    Troy, your response that this is a local issue betrays a lack of appreciation for the “systems” nature of homelessness. If you discuss the issue of homelessness in local communities, they will mention that service coordination is an issue (they also mention awareness of services, even among service providers, can be a problem, which would impact effective service coordination), and they feel that the state could lend valuable assistance to ameliorate this. The DOC noted the benefits of an ICH in the article Cory linked to.

    ICH’s have been identified as one resource to assist in service coordination and strategic planning, and other states have even legislated that an ICH be established and complete items like states’ Ten Year Plan to End Homelessness and improve service coordination. Is an ICH a panacea? Definitely not; you need to have committed individuals involved who are willing to critically examine things like agency protocols that either contribute to or detract from successfully housing individuals and families. That might have been an issue with the prior ICH.

    Relatedly, smaller communities and counties sometimes admit that they will try to send homeless and at-risk individuals to larger cities in the hope that they can access services that they believe places like Sioux Falls and Rapid City have. At times, this burdens the larger towns, and it further destabilizes the homeless/at-risk individuals’ living situations and can remove them from supports like friends and family, thereby reducing the probability of successful outcomes such as locating long-term housing and employment.

    There seems to be a propensity to make everything a “local” issue under the guise of allowing localities to mobilize their deep understanding of local circumstances to effectively address social problems; however, there are circumstances, like homelessness, which involve interrelated systems, including state Cabinet agencies and multiple localities, and it would behoove us to work to involve as many of the system elements as possible in addressing the issue.

    Cory, thank you for drawing attention to the ICH. I must add the caveat that my post reflects my personal beliefs, not necessarily those of my temporary employer.

  17. Nick Nemec

    No connection, none, nada. Ten minutes later, I stand corrected. Cocksure of everything, at least you corrected yourself after doing a few minutes of actual research.

  18. Jake,

    I wholly agree with your comments. Sorry for giving the impression otherwise. What I attempted to say is the activity of such a council would ebb and flow. When putting together the 10- year plan and evaluating “service coordination and strategic planning. . . critically examine things like agency protocols that either contribute to or detract from successfully housing individuals and families,” the council would be more active. But, in the interim, the local agencies (county, school, police, charities, etc.) will be delivering the service (my point with regard to it being a local agency) and utilizing state services like the Housing Authority, Department of Social Services, Department of Labor, Department of Health etc.

    Further, I think it is a good time for a more active strategic look with all the changes that have recently occurred like closing of Salvation Army and opening of the Dudley House, expansion of the Food Bank and its services, re-focusing of Habitat for Humanity etc.

    Sidenote: There is value in “re-activating” the Council to bring awareness and understanding to the public in general. I’m shocked when talking with people about the homeless who have the perception it is mostly people with the profile of the chronically homeless whose fundamental problems are so deep becoming productive members of society is remote (not so say we shouldn’t have hope for these people and do what we can for them). In reality, the greatest quantity of homeless are what is called temporarily homeless who can and often do have jobs, may be suffering from an addiction issue, etc. which with some timely and appropriate assistance can exit being homeless. I heard it said by a person who is intimately involved with those who are temporarily homeless, the greatest enemy to them isn’t a lack of shelter or food but despair. Via providing shelter and food, their “mission” provides hope (vs. despair) which inspires their own capacities to lead to becoming non-homeless and personally satisfied members of society.

    Yes we need the programs, coordination, protocols etc. from the entities charged with helping the homeless but at the end of the day, success depends on the compassionate delivery of the services by a PERSON in the trenches in a way that inspires hope via the internal dignity of the person in their current condition.

  19. Nick,

    The DOC program started a year ago. I was unaware of it. I over-reacted to the characterization of SFH being a “half-way house” because of the common connotation of a half way house (between prison incarceration and independence from all DOC supervision) which this program is not. This DOC program is related to giving a released inmate awareness of a resource for shelter and food while looking for a job and allowing time to obtain and afford independent housing.

    My vehemence was not about contradicting Leslie (but admit I gave that impression and I apologize for it) but about preventing a misperception of the mission of SFH and who its guest are of being similar to direct DOC transitional facilities like the Glory House in Sioux Falls serving those during a period of semi-incarceration/supervision.

    SFH doesn’t have the resources to provide any extra-ordinary supervision or perform incarceration duties. Further and central to my response, in order to give men, women, and children assurance of safety while a guest of SFH, SFH is adamant in fighting the perception they are NOT a half-way house for transitioning convicts (e.g. Glory House) and NOT providing service to the chronically homeless or those needing acute immediate assistance on a broad range of issues (now done by the Dudley Hospitality House). In general, their mission is to provide transitional housing for people who are employable or employed who have a high chance of finding independent housing within six months.

    Nick, when you are in town and have a couple of hours, I urge you to take a tour of the Dudley House, the SFH, the Banquet, and the Food Bank. I think you will gain some insight into the challenges of those feet on the ground serving the homeless.

    Again, and to be clear, Leslie I apologize for my tone in response. My affinity for the mission of SFH led me to over-react to your question. Every guest of the SFH is free to stay or go as they decide. That independence feeds their human dignity which is critical to having hope vs. despair.

  20. Does the Dudley House take in homeless gay couples?

  21. P.S. Nick,

    This morning I coincidentally met with a member of the Dudley House Board so I asked him about this DOC program at SFH. He was surprised they agreed to any affiliation because one of the reason people stay in the shadows (live in their car or in tent cities) is because they (esp. those with children) have already been victimized by the criminal elements of society or been abused. At the Dudley House, they have a significant police presence by drive-by’s and rapid response to people who are there to victimize guests. The slightest hint Dudley or SFH is a haven for criminals makes it significantly harder to get the homeless to utilize their services.

  22. Jenny,

    Yes. Sexual orientation is irrelevant as sexual activity is strictly prohibited.

    Not counting the children library/play area, men’s community day room, women/family day room or rooms/offices where services are delivered by health, counseling, or labor agencies, the Dudley House has basically three sections:

    1) Men sleeping quarters (community sleeping on cots)
    2) Women sleeping quarters (community sleeping)
    3) Women with children (individual rooms). No men are allowed in this section because the facility can’t handle multiple genders for the protection of others (or assurance of safety).

    I could be wrong about this as I only toured the facility once:

    1) If two women come with children, they decide who sleeps with the children and the other sleeps in the women only section.

    2) If one or two men come with children (which I believe is rare), I think they are referred to the county which procures them shelter in a local motel because the “family section” only allows women and children. I believe there is talk about an addition which would accommodate men with children if the demand is sufficient to justify it.

  23. After reading all of the comments, especially those that point out the many current needs of the homeless in South Dakota, I have to agree with Cory’s opening statement. I also have been reminded that Troy’s lecturing on blogs are mostly pompous partisan drivel.

  24. Daniel Buresh

    Dave and Nick, whether you like how Troy conveys his points, he offers more insight to the actual workings of what is really going on than 99% of the people on this blog, including Cory and his pompous partisan drivel that you seem to be ok with. Seems like you two would rather play butthurt toddlers than contribute to the discussion. I know I am now contributing to the stupidity that you both have started, but I thought I should point out how counter-productive both of you are. Neither of you could hold a candle to the amount of knowledge Troy has about the inner workings of our government.

  25. Troy has the typical attitude of an intellectual, but he’s always been well-mannered with me, Daniel.

  26. Actually for the record Daniel, Nick was accepted into West Point back in the 70s, and was in the SD legislature back in the 90s, so trust me, he knows the ‘inner workings of government’ and can hold a candle to Troy on intellectualism. Troy knows this also. :)

  27. “pompous partisan drivel”? Check the mirror, Daniel.

  28. I suppose to some extent we’re all pompous for presuming to think that our opinions are worth publishing. Calling Troy or Daniel or me pompous doesn’t move the intellectual ball; it just raises the temperature.

  29. BCB, I started two petition drives. If I hadn’t followed through, gotten allies and signatures, and gotten those two measures on the ballot, I’d have to accept that others would count that as a ding against my political résumé.

  30. Troy is right that Rounds was responding to federal action. The fact that homelessness requires some local action doesn’t obviate the need to coordination among federal and state agencies. That was what the federal ICH, a product of the Reagan era, sought to do.

    If I put my snark hat back on, I’d suggest that lessens whatever minimal credit Rounds might get for starting something. He was just following the lead of President Bush. If Rounds thought the council’s work was done after a few meetings, he was apparently mistaken, or his solutions didn’t stick.

  31. Bill Fleming

    “Early in life I had to choose between honest arrogance and hypocritical humility. I chose the former and have seen no reason to change.” — Frank Lloyd Wright

    “If you done it, it ain’t braggin’.” — Walt Whitman

  32. Daniel Buresh

    Of course, I on occasion spew partisan drivel, but with such a good discussion going on where both sides are bringing valuable insight…then you have a couple clowns trying to disrupt it without providing any counterpoints. There was some good discourse going. In fact, I don’t see anything extremely partisan. Jenny, it’s too bad he doesn’t use that intellectualism and educate us on the topic rather than degrade a poster for keeping the dialogue going, even going as far as criticizing someone who corrects himself. It’s no wonder he was never elected again.

  33. If Nick had an R next to his name he would have had better chances of winning. It was a feat for him to get elected in the first place in such staunchly republican districts.

  34. That fake payday loan deacon has done more for the homeless in SD than Mike Rounds.

  35. Roger Cornelius

    It appears that Rounds only acknowledged homelessness for partisan purposes and did nothing more about it.
    Cory’s adage about his petition drives fits what Rounds didn’t do. Had Cory only talked about starting the drives and did not actually circulate them, would we call him a hero? I suspect that Rounds and now Daugaard was eyeing some federal handout for the state. Which reminds me, does the state get federal money for the homeless problem?
    I have worked directly and indirectly with the Rapid City homeless population, indirectly as a representative on various boards and committees and directly as a chemical dependency councilor.
    The one thing I can tell you is that the problem of homelessness can’t be intellectualized and anyone thinking otherwise is working in the wrong direction and not providing helpful information. The problems for the homeless are earthy, they are a hard reality.
    Fortunately for Rapid City we have the Cornerstone Rescue Mission that provides basic services including a noon meal for the community for those need it. For many it is an opportunity to socialize with a group of people that accepts them and their various problems. I have some concerns about the Cornerstone Mission, but I’ll save that for another time.
    What Rapid City has a problem with chronically homeless or street people as they are often called. These are people that have been banned by the shelter for alcohol and drug use, the mission drug tests all residents, or have abused the rules of the mission.
    As pointed out by someone, the majority of what we call homeless are actually people in transition, you’ll find that many mission residents are employed at minimum wage jobs, there’s that word again, minimum wage, and can’t put enough money aside to start a new life. Residents of the mission are charged a daily fee, I don’t recall how much, with exceptions for those can’t work for health reasons.
    The point of this thread is that Rounds only offered a branch of the tree and branch broke off. There is no honor for Rounds or Daugaard who is now in his second term and just now “thinks” about restarting the commission. It shows a cold callous heart.

  36. Paraphrasing—or post-phrasing?— Bill F and Walt W:

    …and if you ain’t done it, you’re South Dakota’s Congressional delegation.

    And as we now see, if Mike Rounds had really wanted to help the homeless, he’d have hired them to sit around drinking coffee and making trouble at his political opponents’ cafés….

  37. Parker’s coffee is way over-priced for homeless people. Plus the service to far too slow to serve that many people.

  38. My main point is simple:

    Interagency Groups are usually formed for two reasons.

    1) Eliminate duplication of programs or
    2) Increase coordination and communication between agencies.

    After awhile they lose steam when they accomplish the mission for which they were formed. To continue for the sake of existing in perpetuity and/symbolism becomes more harmful than good because they become moribund and have meetings for the sake of meetings.

    And, again after awhile, it becomes prudent for them to re-form and re-evaluate new realities/opportunities/challenges. Its just a natural ebb and flow which does and should occur in all levels of government.

    I’m at a loss on how my point or comments are partisan.

  39. I won’t read partisanship in that summary, Troy. But now the question is, do we have memos or after-action reviews from the 2003 SD ICH saying, “Yup, we eliminated duplication and increased coordination/communication. We achieved our goals, so our work is done here”? And if they achieved their goals, how did that duplication re-emerge or communication.cooperation break down to the point that we are now talking about reviving the ICH?

    Neither of those questions is partisan.

  40. CH,

    Question #1: I don’t know if there are memos. However, from my experience, they just kinda fade away as things get accomplished. I think the better question would be what was the original purpose of its formation. That might answer your question. “Accomplishment” is not often quantifiable at any particular time. If people across agencies are talking and understand the role of the other, mission accomplished.

    Question #2: Over time, people in positions change, challenges change, opportunities change, programs change, priorities change. Organizationally, I think it is often appropriate for groups to reform and reevaluate whether formally or informally.

    One of the things people who never worked in State Government don’t realize is how small the town is and the informal cross-agency communication is. If two Secretaries (or even two Division Directors) also socialize together, a defacto inter-departmental coordination actually occurs. When I was in Pierre, my wife and I often went for a walk and passed the houses for two other Division Directors in other Departments. While our spouses talked, we often talked about issues, programs, and coordination. We didn’t need anything formal for communication and cooperation. At the same time, there are other times formality is important to insure bridges are built that otherwise don’t exist.

    The other thing is not well-known it is how the Governor is often “used.” If we (Department or Division level) wanted to make sure people outside of state government knew something was a priority, we’d have a “photo op” or otherwise make sure he mentioned the issue in an appropriate forum. We didn’t need the Governor’s attention or work to move things forward (we worked for him so it was on his agenda). We just needed his gravitas to kick-start it.

    Finally, as I said before, these groups come to life and usually peter out. And, after a period of time, the same reason they came to life has re-occurred. The fact it died means nothing and the fact it should be re-incarnated means nothing except time passes, people change, etc.