Longtime partnerships lead to HAPI success

Local News

ABERDEEN, S.D. (KELO) — A non-profit in northern KELOLAND is helping more people become homeowners. 

Homes Are Possible Inc. or HAPI got off the ground in the late 90s in Aberdeen.  

Sister Janice Klein remembers back years ago when some of the Presentation Sisters were looking for a place to live. Their options came up short. 

“Windows were cracked, mirrors were broken,” Sister Janice Klein. 

They realized this wasn’t just their problem. 

“We knew if we couldn’t find, there were probably lots of people in Aberdeen who couldn’t find decent housing,” Klein said. 

That’s when the conversation about affordable housing started between the sisters and other community members. 

HAPI Board Member Juletta Smith was eager to be a part of the conversation back then. 

“I could name at least 10 families who could handle home ownership, but did not have down payment money,” HAPI Board Member Juletta Smith said. 

The organization initially started with the focus of providing down payment assistance grants for families with low to moderate incomes. Then came a new need. 

“We discovered, particularly in Aberdeen, there was a lack of affordable housing. You could put a loan together and find a buyer, but there were no homes for sale,” HAPI Board Member Rodney Fouberg said. 

Since that time HAPI has gone on to build hundreds of homes in the Aberdeen area. 

“It’s taken a board that leaves their agendas at the door. It’s taken outside partners like the Presentation Sisters, the city of Aberdeen, local lenders to be willing to take a little bit of chance on some things and work with a small non-profit,” HAPI Executive Director Jeff Mitchell said. 

Right now, work is underway on what’s called the 1st North Subdivision, which is the organization’s 11th and biggest subdivision yet. 

One of the streets will be named after Nano Nagel, the founder of the Presentation Sisters. 

“Our mission is to alleviate oppression and promote human dignity and that’s what this is about,” Klein said. 

Outgoing Mayor Mike Levsen says the organization has helped spur growth in the Hub City. 

Levsen came into office in 2004, about a year after HAPI started building homes. 

“In the time since 2004 we’ve increased population 25 percent and a lot of that was due to the fact that people had a place to live,” Aberdeen Mayor Mike Levsen said. 

HAPI also offers other services, including Home Buyer Education.

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