Providing family shelters for those experiencing homelessness with teens

In Sioux Falls, South Dakota, the number of homeless individuals continues to increase — especially within the last five years. For those facing these conditions, the harsh winters of South Dakota can make staying on the streets a dangerous proposition.

The Union Gospel Mission provides many services to those experiencing homelessness, in order to offer help and hope to this growing population. A recent $20,000 grant from the UnitedHealthcare aims to help further their mission, with a focus on mothers in need with older children — as it can be difficult for these families to find shelter. 

With this grant, Union Gospel Mission Sioux Falls is able to provide 10 rooms specifically for these families, refurbishing the upper floor of the homeless shelter, with a goal of having it complete by Christmas.

The services don’t stop at just a temporary place to stay during a crisis. Union Gospel Mission bills itself as “more than a shelter,” providing education and on-site health services. Case managers help to make sure that the people using their shelter have health care needs provided and referrals to appropriate services for permanent housing, employment and more. Over 1,200 people were served at the on-site medical clinic in 2023.

For UnitedHealthcare, supporting this effort is part of a larger goal to help tackle social determinants of health such as housing, transportation and food insecurity. Up to 80% of a person’s health happens outside the doctor’s office, and addressing these factors can mean bettering the health of a community.

“Together we are helping people find hope and stability in a safe place,” said Eric Weber, CEO of Union Gospel Mission Sioux Falls.

In the Sioux Falls area alone, the Union Gospel Mission has served more than 42,000 meals and provided more than 13,000 nights of shelter from January to April of 2023.

“We are honored to help Union Gospel Mission serve families in need to help them live their healthiest lives,” said Bobby Gregoire, South Dakota CEO, UnitedHealthcare. “In addition to safe and stable housing, access to education, employment and health services is critical to the success and health of this community and all South Dakotans.”

Providing this housing, as well as other services, can help provide a stable footing to help individuals and families grow and thrive.

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