New signs downtown Rapid City tell the public it’s okay to say “no”

Published: Nov. 1, 2021 at 6:10 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The street corners of downtown Rapid City are home to the United States president’s sculptures, but on any given day those statues share their spots with individuals asking for spare change.

New signs posted in the downtown area tell people it’s okay to say, “no” to panhandlers.

“For some reason, it’s controversial to suggest homeless people may not use the money they receive for food and shelter, but this is just the reality,” said Rapid City Mayor Steve Allender.

Rather than sustaining someone’s addiction, Allender suggested donating directly to the nonprofit organizations that help the homeless population.

He added this isn’t the city being uncompassionate but instead city officials want to find better ways to help.

“We’re taking taxpayer money, who by the way a lot of them would prefer not go to this effort, and we’re trying to funnel it to the right organizations in order to get the folks who do not want to be homeless off the streets and back into society,” said Allender.

Allender said although the signs are not a significant piece in battling the problem, they tell the public that they are allowed to exercise their right to say no.

“After knowing all you know and learning all you learn about it if you still choose to give people money that’s your prerogative,” said Allender.

He added at the end of the day, the goal is to try and help those that want to become self-sufficient.

“And then we keep the other homeless individuals, the chronic homeless, we keep them from interfering in the lives of non-homeless people. From disrupting business, from disrupting pedestrian traffic and vehicular traffic, and allowing someone to peacefully and safely experience a city park. So, we have an obligation for public safety,” said Allender.

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