Bush Foundation grant to help create affordable housing

RAPID CITY, S.D. — Rapid City Collective Impact received a $200,000 grant from the Bush Foundation to address Rapid City’s growing affordable housing struggle.

The grant will be awarded gradually over the next two years. The funds will be used to renovate existing homes and create more affordable housing in Rapid City.

Ellsworth Air Force Base’s incoming B-21 bomber program has the potential to bring thousands of residents to the area.

Rapid City is already in need of more affordable housing. Black Hills Community Foundation Executive Director Liz Hamberg says “We have a significant number of families that are making less than $35,000 a year. And we also know a two-bedroom apartment is $800-900 a month. Those just don’t match up.”

The Black Hills Knowledge Network led a study that suggests Rapid City is already lacking nearly 3,500 affordable homes needed to support the current population. With the potential thousands coming to the area in the next few years, the need for affordable housing will only increase.

While many military, manufacturing and tech-based jobs will be increasing, many more hospitality and service industry jobs will be needed to support the coming program. Workers in these important jobs can pay rent in the $400 to $600 range, and different housing options need to be explored.

Hamberg stresses that single family homes are important, but multifamily units are also going to be needed.

While the Bush Grant is an important step in addressing the affordable housing problem, it won’t solve everything. “It is a big multifaceted issue,” Hamberg says, “and communities all over the country are dealing with affordable housing issues, it’s not just us.”

Hamberg says city leaders are going to have to find creative solutions in the coming years to provide necessary housing.

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