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Wo’Okiye Program Fall Update

SDUIH’s Wo’Okiye street outreach team has been hard at work since the City of Sioux Falls partnership announcement in early August! As recommended by the City’s Homelessness Task Force, SDUIH is receiving city funding to continue building relationships with those experiencing homelessness and connect them with resources. Since then, the Wo’Okiye teams have added three new members who started in September. Emma is the program assistant/dispatcher, and Lashya and Raven are the two outreach specialists.

As the temperatures continue to drop, our houseless relatives have found comfort in utilizing our Cultural Healing Center in downtown Sioux Falls. Whether they are stopping in to warm up with a cup of coffee and conversation or have a meal while their phone charges or connects to WiFi, we welcome them in with open arms. We are proud to have connected many of these relatives to our cultural team, as well as to our marketplace navigator, Shannon, to help sign them up for Medicaid.

In September, we had 266 individual drop-ins, most unhoused and working with our team. The changing of the seasons was evident in our numbers from October. Roughly 600 people visited our downtown space throughout the month of October. Again, most of these relatives are unhoused and working with our Wo’Okiye team.

While on outreach, we have been connecting with relatives to help schedule medical or behavioral health appointments, schedule assessments, and invite them into our space to help case manage or connect them with other agencies to help find what they need. Additionally, we have done wellness checks and provided hats and gloves to folks on the colder days.

We are proud to report that during our outreach and case management, we have helped six people get IDs, helped four individuals into housing, and helped one keep their housing. We have also helped one individual get their arrest warrant cleared through warrant resolution court.

One thing we have learned since starting this street outreach team is that we cannot do it alone. We are fortunate to work with other agencies that can better support our relatives and coordinate with case management. These other agencies have also referred people to us to connect with our cultural health team, join our cultural groups, and get traditional medicines. We have also gotten a few individuals into treatment thanks to outside agency help.

With even colder weather on the way, we know we are gearing up for a busy season. We appreciate everyone who has been with us on this new journey. With the appreciation from the folks we serve and the success stories we have witnessed in just the last few months, we know this is important work making a genuine difference in our community.

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