PIERRE, S.D. (KELO) — The Legislature’s Executive Board received welcome news on Tuesday from the executive director for the South Dakota Housing Development Authority.

Chas Olson told lawmakers that 46 projects, including 19 more earlier in the day, have been approved for infrastructure grants that the Legislature had funded for workforce housing.

The legislation provided $100 million for grants and $100 million for low-interest loans.

Olson said his office has received 80 applications for grants totaling $130 million. Approximately $22 million of grants remains available, but Olson said the housing board will use up that part of the money with the next round of decisions on December 12.

There has been less demand so far for loans from the program. No applications have been received yet from Rapid City or Sioux Falls for the $30 million that lawmakers designated for loans to be used in those two communities. There have been $13 million of loan requests from the $70 million targeted for communities of 50,000 population or less.

Olson didn’t have details with him about the number of units that will be built. The grant or loan amount is limited to no more than one-third of a project’s cost. “It’s in the thousands, easily,” he said. Projects that get funding commitments must move dirt within six months, with a three-month extension possible.

“I know you’re touching a lot of communities, from our largest cities to our smallest rural areas,” said Republican Senate leader Casey Crabtree, who sponsored the legislation this year.

Earlier this year, it was determined that tribal governments couldn’t apply for the loans or grants because they aren’t legally defined as subdivisions of state government. Democratic Senate leader Reynold Nesiba asked how the Oglala Lakota County school district received approval for a $2.5 million grant for a 79-unit teacher-housing project.

Olson said that the school district, while on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation, technically is a subdivision of state government and therefore qualified. Nesiba noted that Republican Rep. Tyler Tordsen, a member of the Sisseton Wahpeton Oyate, plans legislation to redefine tribal interests for purposes of the program. Olson said the grant money likely will be gone before the 2024 Legislature meets. Nesiba said the potential change could still apply to the loan portion of the program.

Republican Sen. Dean Wink asked whether grants have been made to all 66 counties. Olson said not yet. “We’ve had a very good unit mix. I’ve been pleased with the variety of communities that have been funded,” Olson said.

Governor Kristi Noem appointed Olson in July. He had been serving as interim director for the agency after Lorraine Polak stepped down earlier in the year.

Several lawmakers praised Olson on Tuesday. The funding originally was approved during the 2022 legislative session, but the housing board wouldn’t use the money because the law wasn’t as clear as many lawmakers thought. That led to the 2023 act.

“You put your head down, you went to work and you got this done,” Republican Rep. Mike Weisgram told him.