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Political Opposites Join Forces to Fight Homelessness, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Issues

Local and national leaders joined forces at a “Healing Summit” hosted by the Siouxland Street Project and the Community Initiative for Native Children and Families on April 17, 2019.

The group first met on June 1, 2018, to find solutions to homelessness, substance abuse and mental health issues.

“We need to give voice to those who have none.  And, I’m doing my part.  And, I want the rest of the community to step up.”

Frank LaMere is a Native American activist, who also represents the Four Directions Center.   He is also a co-chair of the Community Initiative for Native Children and Hope Street.

LaMere says a dozen Native Americans have died because of homelessness and drug or alcohol abuse in the last couple of years.  

Several years ago the region lost funding from Indian Health Services for a rehab center and half-way house.  And, LaMere says the problem keeps getting worse.

Joining the discussion,  Congressman Steve King who represents the 4th Congressional District.  Earlier this month the Republican asked Congress to provide money for a detox center for the area and more. 

“We always want to do what is true, right and just.  I think my record shows that.  Not by what the Press says, but by what gets done,” said Congressman King.

LaMere says Congressman Steve King has been an advocate for the Native American Community for years.  The two randomly met at the Omaha airport three-years ago and started working together.  

“I have strong political ties. Steve King has strong political ties. Sometimes you need to put that all aside and that’s what we need to do,” said LaMere.

Two men on opposite ends of the political spectrum trying to improve life in their community.

Also, taking part in the forum, members of Indian Health Services, The Siouxland Human Investment Partnership or SHIP, the Iowa Department of Human Services and substance abuse advocates.  

Members of the audience included local leaders in Sioux City including Sioux City Mayor Bob Scott, city council members, Karen Mackey of the Human Rights Commission and Sioux City Police Chief Rex Mueller.  

The group also checked out the Hope Street of Siouxland building.  It’s a sober living facility for men operated by SHIP that is expected to open next month.