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SF Housing Helps Struggling Families

April 30, 2014, 6:00 PM by Hailey Higgins

SF Housing Helps Struggling Families

Currently, there are 1,800 households in Sioux Falls receiving housing vouchers. Those are meant to help struggling families, the elderly, and people with disabilities pay for rent. The people on the program say they're thankful for the help.

Don is among nearly 2,000 people being helped by the Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission.

"It was really a big change in my life because I had gone through a pretty rough patch in my life for about two to three years," Don said.

Don didn't want us not to share his last name, but the 24-year-old man struggles with high-functioning autism and relies on a monthly housing voucher to supplement the rent for his small downtown apartment.

Hailey Higgins: If you didn't have it, what situation would you be in? What would it be like?
Don: I would probably be homeless.

He's been on the program for two years, after waiting more than a year on a waiting list. He was lucky -- the estimated wait time these days is four to five years according to Executive Director Shireen Ranschau.

"The need keeps growing because of the numbers, but our funding doesn't grow. In fact, last year, because of sequestration, we got a cut, a little bit of a cut," Ranschau said.

The Housing Choice Voucher program is based on the participant's income. The client pays 30-percent of his or her gross monthly income toward rent and utilities. The program pays whatever is left. But with an $11 million budget this year, Ranschau says, the federal funding still falls short of helping everyone who needs it which is why 3,600 names are on a waiting list.

"It is not really fair to them at all," Don said. "They've been waiting so long and God knows what they're going through."

Ranchau says the average family is on the program for three to five years. Sixty percent are elderly or people with disabilities and will likely use housing vouchers for an extended period of time. Meanwhile, Don's heart goes out to those still waiting.

"It is not really fair to them at all," Don said. "They've been waiting so long and God knows what they're going through."

The average participant in the household receives just over $450 a month.

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