The challenges of finding affordable housing in Sioux Falls

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — Our KELOLAND Investigates report on crime in a central Sioux Falls neighborhood introduced you to a woman who’s living in a garage that was converted into an apartment.

Her situation shows the extent that people will go to to keep a roof over their heads.

The issue of affordable housing is not unique to Sioux Falls. In most cities across the country, the cost of housing is far outpacing peoples’ incomes. And many apartment dwellers are just a paycheck away from an eviction notice.

Living in a garage that’s been converted into an efficiency apartment is far more desirable than being out in the streets.

Kennecke: Do you pay a lot in rent for this?
Tenant: No, not much?
Kennecke: How much do you pay? We’re not showing your face. How much do you pay?
Tenant: $350
Kennecke: $350 a month?

$350 is cheap for an apartment in Sioux Falls. But it’s not the kind of housing the City of Sioux Falls wants for its residents.

“We don’t want to see any family living in conditions where it’s a converted garage or it’s a unit where it’s in disrepair. But it’s the only place that they have,” City of Sioux Falls Housing Manager Chellee Unruh said.

The City of Sioux Falls is pushing to increase its housing stock another one-thousand units by the year 2022. Part of the strategy involves providing financial incentives to developers to build more affordable homes and apartments.

“So it is where we can help lower the cost of the land and the redevelopment of that land so that that cost does not have to be passed down to the consumer,” Unruh said.

But when it comes to adding more affordable housing in Sioux Falls, there also has to be buy-in from the homeowners and businesses already in the neighborhood.

“I think every area could probably use more affordable housing. But you run into another thing. You run into the NIMBY Effect: I don’t want them in my backyard,” Sioux Empire Housing Partnership Executive Director Jim Schmidt said.

But Jim Schmidt of the Sioux Empire Housing Partnership says providing safe, clean and affording housing benefits everyone in the community.

Right now, there are more than one-thousand people on a waiting list to get into affordable housing units in Sioux Falls.

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