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Siouxland Street Project (copy)

Native American activist Frank LaMere, of South Sioux City, speaks during a Siouxland Street Project meeting in Sioux City in this June 2018 file photo. The Siouxland Street Project will host a summit April 17 to continue the discussion on homelessness, substance use and mental health needs in the community.

SIOUX CITY -- Matt Ohman, executive director of Siouxland Human Investment Partnership, told Sioux City Council members Monday that addiction and homelessness among Native Americans in the community has never been worse.

Ohman said a coalition of community leaders seeking to help the city's homeless and those with drug and alcohol addictions have made "a lot of progress" since meeting with Indian Health Service (IHS) representatives and U.S. Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa, last June. They will gather together again April 17 for The Siouxland Street Project Sioux City Healing Summit 2019.

The summit, which is open to the public, will be held from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Sioux City Public Museum. King, Iowa Department of Human Services Director Jerry Foxhoven, Native American activist Frank LaMere and multiple IHS representatives are among those scheduled to speak.

Ohman said leaders will explore the "next steps" in combating homelessness, addiction and mental health issues in the community. He said "some language" from King's office has been submitted to the U.S. House of Representatives so that Sioux City can receive funding.

Sioux City is in need of a detox center where Native Americans and others can go to be detoxified from alcohol and other drugs before entering an addiction treatment facility. Each year, more than 1,000 people are admitted to both Sioux City hospitals needing medical detox services, according to Siouxland Human Investment Partnership.

"Indian Health Service is going to come here. By them coming here, that implies to me that they're going to support this effort," LaMere told the council.

A sober living house, which has been in the works since last summer, is expected to open in Sioux City soon, according to Ohman. He said the house will have 10 beds available.

"That will serve as a place for people to go. Right now, people are out on the streets. They get into hospitals to detox and then they don't have anywhere to go," he said. "The waiting list for a treatment program is about 35 days, so it's just a vicious cycle of going back out in the street, going back to detox."

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