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Could state housing dollars be helpful in Clark County?

When the “Choose Clark County” economic development organization began, we knew that Housing was one of the areas we needed to focus on. When we put pen to paper on our mission statement, “increasing housing opportunities” made it into our list of core purposes, along with “enhancing the quality of life” and “promoting business growth.”

I’ll admit that Housing has been a tough nut to crack! Has Choose Clark County solved all of our local housing issues? Definitely not. Are we continually working to try to identify solutions, small or large? You bet!

There are two opportunities right now through the State of South Dakota to help defray the cost of new housing and housing infrastructure. Earlier this year, our Legislature approved funding to the South Dakota Housing Development Authority for two programs that I’d like to mention: the Housing Opportunity Fund and the Housing Infrastructure Financing Program.

As with all government programs, these are both somewhat complex, but here is a general summary of what they are and how they work:

Housing Opportunity Fund (HOF)

This program can help provide funding for the construction of new housing in South Dakota communities. It can be single-family or multi-family housing (homes, duplexes, apartments, etc.) It can even help with remodeling and rehabilitation of existing structures. The HOF provides loans at 0% interest, which in certain circumstances may be “forgiven” and turned into grants for rental housing in rural areas. There are income-qualifying guidelines for the event tenants of the rental housing. If state HOF dollars are used for a duplex, for example, then one of the two units would have to be rented to someone whose income falls at 115% of the Area Median Income or less. Yes, it’s an income guideline, but it is far less stringent and far more flexible than most other housing programs.

Housing Infrastructure Financing Program

This is the “$200 million for housing” you may have heard about during this year’s Legislative session. This is not for building housing, but rather for the public infrastructure needed around new housing developments. Some potential uses include water systems, sewer systems, roads, bridges, curb and gutter, sidewalks, and more. The rules and regulations have finally been written for this new program, so cities and towns can now apply for loans, grants, or a combination thereof to help pay for the infrastructure needed to support new housing.

It’s no surprise that high construction costs are a specific roadblock we’re all facing now with housing development. The Housing Opportunity Fund is an excellent program, but the amount it currently offers ($186,000 per project) sadly doesn’t go far at today’s building prices. Here at Choose Clark County, we’re continuing to research these and other opportunities, and to look in new places for creative solutions!

Clark County residents, please encourage your city councils or town boards to consider these opportunities, especially the infrastructure dollars. It would be awesome if our communities could plan ahead for future growth and begin laying in the infrastructure needed in those areas.

As always, I’m happy to answer any questions that I can, and/or make connections with folks at the South Dakota Housing Development Authority in Pierre who have all the program details. Thank you!

Kristin Brekke Vandersnick, Executive Director

Choose Clark County


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