Simplified: This summer, Minnehaha County was awarded a $775,000 grant to create a plan to house people who've been incarcerated. Now, the county is asking for an additional $4 million to help fund a partnership with the Glory House to meet those unique housing needs.
Why it matters
- The county was one of four areas nationwide to receive this grant from the MacArthur Foundation and the Urban Institute. After a six-month planning period (started early summer), each of the four communities will submit additional funding requests – Minnehaha is asking for $4 million to support its new "Just Home" project.
- Accessible and affordable housing are very much hot topics and pressing issues in Sioux Falls right now. But many existing affordable housing programs aren't accessible to people with a felony on their record.
- If the county gets the money it's asking for, an expected $3 million will go to fund a partnership with the Glory House, in which the nonprofit will provide apartments for Just Home project participants in its in-the-works new apartment building.
"We certainly want (housing units) to be safe – we want to be sure that they’re well-maintained," said Kari Benz, director of human services for the county. "Some of the feedback as we worked with people who have been (justice-)impacted that we heard pretty consistently was just, 'I don't want to live in a crap hole.'"
Who will this grant and partnership help?
A primary goal of the grant is to specifically help people who not only have been impacted by the justice system, but also come from groups disproportionately represented in jail and prison.
- In our area, Native Americans are disproportionately incarcerated.
Through meetings with stakeholders, Benz and the Just Home team identified two distinct groups who need help.
- People who've had some pretty good supports in place but are still struggling. For example, someone with a legal history who's now working through drug court, or someone who simply can't find an affordable place.
- People who need more intense case-management and wraparound support. This is the group the Glory House partnership is really aiming to serve.
"We really want the population who struggles with some criminal activity in the past or difficulties with mental health conditions, substance use to have an opportunity to lead a healthy stable life," said Nicki Dvorak, president of the Glory House.
In addition to the Glory House partnership, the grant is also helping the county get 21 federal Section 8 housing vouchers, which help low-income folks afford housing.
Tell me more about the partnership
The initial agreement is for the Glory House to have 15 units available for Just Home project participants in its new facility.
- There's not a clear timeline yet, though, for when the new facility will be finished and open. But it'll likely be no sooner than late 2023, Benz said.
Also still in development is the specific programming the Glory House will offer Just Home tenants, though it's likely to mirror existing programming, Dvorak said.
- That means there may be tenants who are receiving Glory House services or entering cost-share agreements if they do random drug screenings.
- There also may be tenants who are already receiving services from other places in town like Southeastern Behavioral or other nonprofits.
What happens next?
The county has until December 16 to submit any revisions to the housing investment action plan it's sending to the MacArthur Foundation.
- Then, it'll be a matter of waiting to see if the $4 million in funding is approved.
"I think we have a good shot," Benz said. "I think we have a really solid plan, and we’re hoping that if we’re approved our goal would be to start accessing those vouchers right away."
For the Glory House, next steps are to continue meeting with stakeholders about what the specific needs are for Native Americans who've been impacted by the justice system.
- As conversations and programming develops, Dvorak hopes they'll be able to start filling vacancies in their existing apartment building with Just Home participants even before the new building is complete.