Officials say vacation rentals contribute to housing shortage for Ellsworth airmen

RAPID CITY, S.D. — More than 100 people gathered at The Monument on Thursday to hear from those in-the-know on the B-21 program. Hosted by Elevate Rapid City, these “Critical Issues Luncheons” bring together residents and community leaders on a variety of topics important to the area.

According to Elevate President and CEO Tom Johnson, housing is the biggest priority facing the Rapid City area right now.

“I think that is going to continue to be the challenge for the entire community, not just the base,” Johnson said.

Recent survey numbers show the Black Hills area is down about 3,000 housing units, and they estimate needing to add 2,000 more each year for the next decade.


From left to right: Elevate President/CEO Tom Johnson, 28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Joseph Sheffield, and S.D. Ellsworth Development Authority Executive Director Scott Landguth. (November 3, 2022 by Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

Local leaders say rental housing – not apartments – is preferential for incoming airmen, and the vacation rental industry is making a dent in the available market.

“With that explosion in that industry of Airbnb and the rentals, people are choosing to rent their homes that way instead of a more long-term solution, so rental homes are being pulled out of the market for airmen,” said Scott Landguth, executive director of the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority.

A packed hall at The Monument for Elevate’s Critical Issues Luncheon:

Officials at Ellsworth work with community partners to secure temporary housing for incoming airmen, and are working on securing housing allowance raises to match the market.

It’s an exciting time at Ellsworth – and for the area as a whole. 28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Joseph Sheffield says all that work shows there are really two missions going on at Ellsworth right now.


28th Bomb Wing Commander Col. Joseph Sheffield talks about Ellsworth’s current mission during Elevate’s B-21 Critical Issues Luncheon. (November 3, 2022 by Darsha Nelson, NewsCenter1)

“We focus day in and day out on the B-1 operations and ensuring we provide long-range strike anytime, anywhere around the globe,” Col. Sheffield said. “[All] at the same time as the B-21 is in production and going to be unveiled in the near future and fly after that.”

The B-21 is set to be unveiled on December 2, 2022, at Northrop Grumman’s facility in Palmdale, California.

CLICK HERE for a look at the timeline of the B-21 Raider.

Construction projects for the incoming B-21 mission have started; CLICK HERE for a look at the first project to break ground.

The mission may be bigger for Ellsworth than originally thought; CLICK HERE to find out why.

Categories: ConnectCenter1-Events, Local News, South Dakota News