Groups join forces to reduce begging, panhandling downtown
City Hall, DTSF, Inc. and businesses combine work to curb loitering, homelessness in central commercial hub of Sioux Falls
Something as simple as a bench — coupled with the high volume of pedestrians found at the corner of 10th Street and Phillips Avenue each day — made the downtown Sioux Falls location a prime spot for panhandling and begging.
But that’s not the case anymore, as the city and its public and private partners have adjusted policing, security and amenities to curb the amount of begging along downtown Sioux Falls’ primary commercial corridor. And that’s resulting in what regulars to the bustling Phillips Avenue say has been a noticeable downturn in the number of transients and homeless loitering on street corners.
Interviews conducted this summer by The Dakota Scout with downtown businesses, a nonprofit tasked with maintaining and beautifying the heart of Sioux Falls and city officials revealed a multi-faceted approach to addressing what had been an increasing number of individuals living on the streets.
And though folks like Mayor Paul TenHaken, Sioux Falls Police Chief Jon Thum or downtown boosters are not naive enough to say that increased police presence, private security and more mental health outreach will solve homelessness in the city, the steps taken in recent month are aimed at keeping it an inviting place for people to live, work and recreate.
“The homeless (problem) is growing so we’re trying to be more deliberate in what we’re doing,” said the mayor, adding that he hopes Sioux Falls can avoid the traps that have given other U.S. cities a black eye when it comes to a visibly-high amount of homelessness. “It’s a bunch of small things.”