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Native Sun News Today: 'Haven For Hope' proposed for homeless in Rapid City

The National American University Campus across from the Pennington County Jail in Rapid City, South Dakota, is being considered as a facility that may house the Crisis Care Center. Photo by Andrea Trujillo

Mental illness and homelessness is not a crime
Haven For Hope: Solutions for the ‘root causes of homelessness’
By Ernestine Chasing Hawk
Native Sun News Today Managing Editor

RAPID CITY –– Imagine a multi-acre one stop shop campus that offers food, clothing and shelter for the homeless, residential facilities, substance abuse rehabilitation, mental health services, job training, education, vision, dental and other health services, parenting courses, childcare services, spiritual services as well as computer and financial literacy classes.

Such a place would offer hope to the countless homeless and mentally ill living in Rapid City especially considering the recent announcement by Rapid City Regional Hospital officials that they will be closing their doors to certain mentally ill patients when Rapid City Regional West is at capacity, and will instead call the sheriff’s office to take them to jail.

Hope is what Psychologist Gilbert Gonzalez from San Antonio, Texas, brought to the table at a recent Collective Impact gathering – hope that better solutions exist than placing mentally ill patients behind bars. During a meeting at the Dahl Fine Arts Center on February 2, Gonzalez shared the “Haven For Hope” model with an audience of 200 Rapid City stakeholders.

Haven For Hope is a community within a community, a 22 acre campus just west of downtown San Antonio that “offers a place of hope and new beginnings.” Their mission is to address the root causes of homelessness.

According to a press release from Collective Impact, Gonzalez, Bexar County Department of Behavioral and Mental Health Director, is one of the architects of the Haven for Hope concept.

When Baxter County was at risk of being sanctioned by state and federal officials because of overcrowding in their jail and considered building another jail, Gonzales and others, who believed that homelessness is really a symptom of deeper issues such as trauma, addiction and mental illness, intervened.

“Putting people in jail because there is no treatment is effectively criminalizing mental illness,” Gonzales recently told the Rapid City Journal. “I think it is really the wrong message, the wrong approach."

Read the rest of the story on the Native Sun News Today website: Mental illness and homelessness is not a crime

(Contact Ernestine Chasing Hawk at

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