Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rain With No Roof

It started raining last night. I had luckily stayed with a friend, but it's morning and still raining. When the rain falls it's so important to stay out of it. This is a good time for Libraries and Malls.

The Rushmore Mall in Rapid City, I'm told, has seen better days. It seems like one of those dying malls you see from time to time. We've all seen them and therefore know exactly what I'm talking about. They're the kind or malls that have banks and police offices in them; whole wings with no reason to walk down them because there's really nothing there. It always starts when a new shopping center is built. In this case it's Rushmore Crossing.

Rushmore Crossing is pretty far from anything else, especially if you're walking. It's still in the process of being built but the biggest stores are moving from Rushmore Mall to Crossing. The issue here is that a mall is a good place to go and just walk around in the heat of the summer and the dead of the winter. Rushmore Crossing is a series of strip malls. Strip malls are not good for escaping hot or cold weather. I'm not telling the stores not to move, because honestly they probably don't want a bunch of street people hanging around, but the city needs to find something that can be done with the Rushmore Mall.

I was thinking about one of the biggest problems Rapid City has when it comes to the homeless. There is one shelter in the city and while it does a lot of good things for the people here. There's too much work to be done for one organization. There's not nearly enough room in the Cornerstone Rescue Mission to house everyone that needs a place to sleep, which is throwing a lot of people out on the streets at night. The city has also recently started cracking down on people sleeping in public places at night. The first and second times you are caught sleeping on the streets, in alleys, in parks, under bridges, or wherever, you are given a warning and sent on your way. The third time you are caught (as well as subsequent times) you are arrested.

This is causing people to do one of a few things. One choice is to not sleep at night. There are quite a few people who will just walk the streets all night long. Then when morning comes and the library opens, they sleep in a chair at the library. Another option is leave the city limits and find a bridge, tree, or whatever other shelter you can find. The third option is to hide. Some people I've talked to have a few hiding spots they use to sleep. They can't stay in one place for too long though. So they sleep in different places around town for short periods of time, then get up and move to the next. This brings them behind dumpsters in alleys, under bridges, in hedges, on porches and in parking ramps.

The possible solution I've come up with is for the city to rent or buy an empty section of the Rushmore Mall, and make it into a shelter for the people who, for whatever reason, were not able to get into the Rescue Mission. I know that the homeless "problem" is something that is on the mind of the city council and that they are putting a good amount of money into extra police force. Also, the remodeling it would take to convert a wing of a mall into a homeless shelter would create a few much needed jobs in the city! I'm not saying it's a perfect idea, but it's definitely something to think about.

I'm about ready to leave Rapid City and move on. I feel a little sad about this; this city has felt a little like home for the little amount of time I was here. I'm glad I made this stop, it was one of the last places that I decided upon and it's been a good starting point. The things I learned here will give me a very good basis to the rest of the cities along the way. With that I bid Rapid City adieu. (Adieu. To you and you and you)

Thanks for reading and keep it up!

1 comment:

  1. Reminds me of a book about what dead Walmarts become once they open a SuperWalmart in town (like Waseca). I can't find the book, but here's a blog.

    "But some residents want to be done with big box speculation, and instead use the site for a go-cart track, roller skating rink or the old Sackville Downs racetrack."