Local leaders try to solve housing affordability in Rapid City

RAPID VALLEY, S.D. — Heartland Heights, a new affordable housing complex, opened Wednesday in Rapid Valley.

The event was celebrated with a ribbon cutting, speeches, and a tour of the available rooms in the complex.

Mayor of Rapid City, Steve Allender, explained, “There is an obligation to keep prices in line with the average family income. This is truly affordable housing. Out of the 3500 housing units or more that have been completed over the last year or so, very few of those fall into the affordable housing category, many of them actually fall into the unaffordable category.”

Affordable housing is getting harder to get, with demand for housing high and supply of housing low, and many residents fear being priced out of the Rapid City area.

Heartland Heights 2The City is trying to combat this shortage of affordable housing with construction companies doubling their production of single family homes and increasing the construction of apartments by a third over the past year.

Allender went on to say that job shortages in construction has a connection with housing affordability.

“Unfortunately we’re going to build only as fast as we can possibly build. We can’t build any faster,” said Mayor Allender. “We can’t create construction companies. The companies we do have are suffering from the same employment issues as any other business. They are having trouble finding help, qualified help, help that will show up everyday. It’s putting a damper on the speed of production.”

The production of affordable housing is not only suffering from employment issues, it also requires the cooperation between private companies and  local, state, and federal governments.

Representative Dusty Johnson of South Dakota, dived into his experience with pushing for affordable housing,

“If you’re going to do high end housing, you can get a good return, you can do it on your own. It’s not that easy to finance working class housing,” he said. “You need partners, you need the state, you need the tax credit, and you need a company who’s willing to invest their capital and make it happen.”

Representative Johnson also went on to explain how having a stable living condition is a benefit for families.

“I grew up in a working class family, and I saw with a lot of my friends that when they didn’t have housing stability, it was hard for them to get anything else squared away in their life,” he adds “If you’re couch-surfing, if you’re sleeping in a car, that makes it that much difficult to study for the algebra test, or to make sure you get to work on time. The fact that this kind of project is giving people high quality housing, and its something that fits their budget – it’s hard to overstate the impact of this.”

More units are under construction at Heartland Heights. No completion date has been set yet.

Categories: Local News, South Dakota News