Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity working to provide affordable housing during COVID-19 shutdown

RAPID CITY, S.D. — The mission of the Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity is to put God’s love into action by bringing people together to build homes, communities, and hope.

Since the start of the COVID-19 shutdowns, Habitat has had to make many changes and adjustments to their operations. The organization runs two ReStores from Rapid City and Spearfish, and with those funds, builds and renovates habitat houses in the greater Black Hills region. Unfortunately, the stores have had to close their doors as a result of the shut down, and building has slowed down. Families required to put in sweat equity, may also be affected by the slower building times. Scott Engmann, executive director of the Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity said, 

“We’ve also closed off our job sites to volunteers, but our paid staff has continued building, and we have a couple building sites underway as well as some renovation projects. But we’ve really had to pull back and it’s been really difficult from a financial standpoint, seeing how stressed everyone is.”

While there are families in need of housing because of COVID-19, there is already a back log of over one hundred families in the queue for potential homes. Nationwide the organization is working with Congress to consider a housing assistance fund and additional funding. This year, the organization has plans to build eight homes, but relies heavily on the income from the ReStore. Engmann said,

“So the key with our operation, is about eighty percent of our administrative costs are covered by the income that we receive from the ReStore. So having the ReStore shut is a huge, huge impact to this organization. So we are asking individuals who can contribute financially, to consider doing that.”

To ease some of the burden, the organization has opened options for donations and shopping during the shutdown, but there is still a huge need for housing in the Black Hills region. 

“Thankfully we can keep our doors open right now, but we’re really not getting ahead to build into the future. We have a study that shows there’s over 3,000 new affordable homes needed in our community, that needs not going away. So we’re gonna keep our eyes on that long term prize while we try to keep our home fires burning in these days, said Engmann.”

Tuesday through Saturday the ReStore will accept donations from 9 a.m. — 3 p.m., and currently has a reservation only shopping opportunity on Fridays and Saturdays.

Although resources are scarce, Habitat for Humanity is still putting families first. The organization is converting its former office building on Herman street into a single family home. Engmann said of the new project,

“We see the need for affordable housing is so great, more so than a small office space that we’re having that converted and the zoning changed right now. So, we have 8 families in the queue right now working on their hours and one of those will qualify for that home, which we’re really excited for.”

This project has been in the works for several months and will greatly help a family in need. Aside from this home, the group is also building one of it’s few two story homes for a multigenerational family.

Categories: Coronavirus, Local News, South Dakota News

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