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Shift House Changes Low-Income Housing

June 5, 2012, 6:03 PM by Lindsey Branwall

Shift House Changes Low-Income Housing

The Whittier park neighborhood in Sioux Falls is home to a new way of thinking about affordable housing.

With a vertical break in the roof and the overhang on the porch, a new housing development in Sioux Falls might be a little shifted, but the architecture isn't the only thing that's shifted.

"There was a group that was put together called the Affordable Housing Dreamers. We started thinking, ‘What can we do that’s a little more different to make homeownership more affordable?’” Executive Director at Affordable Housing Solutions Shireen Ranschau said.

What is called the “shift house” is the newest affordable home in Sioux Falls.

"The first word that I'm pretty sure will come to mind, the first word that came to my mind when I walked in was ‘wow’,” Director of Sioux Falls Community Development Darrin Smith said.

The reason why so many thought so is that the architecture is made to look roomy and eliminate the standard perception of low income housing. There is also a big need for it in the community.

Sioux Falls conducted a Housing Needs Assessment in 2010. The report said a common assessment for affordable housing is that no more than 30 percent of your monthly income should be used towards gross housing costs.

At the time of the study, Sioux Falls had 7,500 households earning under $20,000 fitting into that statistic. The city reported 7,600 more households who were earning under $50,000 spending 30 percent or more on their housing.

Whitney Parks is with Architecture for Humanity, and helped plan the house. She hopes the “shift house” is the start to solving that problem.

“This is a beautiful house for a very low cost, and a large number of the population would meet guidelines for purchasing this home,” Parks said.

Ranschau hopes that the house will act as a role model for its new neighborhood.

“Its sort of a domino effect,” Ranschau said. “You may have a lot of run down houses in a neighborhood, but sometimes you only need to fix one of those and then the neighbors start fixing their own.”

There are loose plans in place to use the “shift house” as a model to build other affordable houses in the Sioux Falls area.

It seems that more will be welcomed as a wave of the word “wow” echoes off the “shift house” ceiling.

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