By Kristin Vandersnick, Executive Director, Choose Clark County (CCC)
The word on the street is there's a housing shortage, not only in Clark but in our entire area. There aren't many homes for sale or apartments for rent -- and when one does become available, it gets snatched up in a hurry!
What can be done?
The issue of "housing" is a big one. It won't have a single, silver-bullet solution and it won't be solved in a week, a month, or even a year. However, in my research I've learned about a program through the State of South Dakota that might indeed be very helpful.
The South Dakota Housing Development Authority in Pierre has a program called the "Housing Opportunity Fund." Cities, economic development groups, or private developers can apply for this 0% interest money to build new housing or to remodel existing housing. The housing can be to buy or to rent, including single-family homes, apartments, duplexes, etc. It's a very broad program with lots of possibilities.
The money can be for up to half of a housing project, up to a maximum of $250,000. The funding is technically a 0% interest loan, but here is one really intriguing thing about this program: many times in small, rural communities like ours, if the Housing Opportunity Fund is used for rental housing, the loan is "forgiven" -- making it, in essence, a grant.
The South Dakota Legislature passed a bill during this session to add more dollars to this "Housing Opportunity Fund" program. The same bill also created a fund for housing "infrastructure." This includes things like water, sewer, sidewalks, street lights, and more. This is something to keep in mind if any of our Clark County towns wish to lay in this type of infrastructure to reach new residential lots.
The need for additional local housing was confirmed by the comprehensive "Housing Needs Study" that we at Choose Clark County commissioned last summer. The results show growth opportunities for homes and rental properties alike. A study like this is a prerequisite for applying for state or federal funding for housing, and it is required to be attached to your Housing Opportunity Fund application form. Copies of the study are available upon request.
The "Housing Opportunity Fund" is now accepting applications! I have the contact information here in my office for the SDHDA staff member who coordinates the program. Give me a call, shoot me a text, or drop an email so we can discuss your housing project ideas. On behalf of Choose Clark County, I'd be more than happy to assist you in any way that I can!
Kristin Brekke Vandersnick
Choose Clark County
Phone: (605) 880-7840, call or text