Much-needed affordable housing coming to Sioux Falls

Published: Apr. 20, 2022 at 9:21 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - In a rapidly growing city that is having a difficult time keeping up with the demand for new housing, and during a time when inflation has made owning a home more painfully difficult for so many, some good news came to Sioux Falls on Wednesday.

Construction on a $395,000 project of six new townhomes and twin homes at 15th and Sycamore Streets will start in May and be completed in December. Four more projects that will bring 10 new homes are slated to have their groundbreaking by the end of the year.

All of the new facilities are funded by a public/private partnership organized by a non-profit group called Affordable Housing Solutions, which has developed 135 houses and seven apartment complexes in the last 22 years and has a fitting name considering the severity of the need for such solutions.

“We hear about it everywhere,” said Dominique Jackson, who oversees six states, including South Dakota, for the Department of Housing and Urban Development. “It is the biggest problem I hear about from every elected leader across the country.”

Jackson was one of several dignitaries representing at the groundbreaking ceremony for the facilities at 15th and Sycamore on the southeastern side of Sioux Falls. Future projects are planned on East 12th St., North Wayland St., 20th and Cleveland, and South Williams streets.

Of the $395,000 funding for the new homes, HUD provided $240,000 in grants to the city via its Home Investments Partnership program, better known as HOME.

“We can’t just do it ourselves,” Jackson said.

The other $155,000 for the project comes from private sector donations — $90,000 from First Premier Bank, $53,000 from Wells Fargo, and $12,000 from an anonymous donor.

”It really takes a village to create this,” said Brent Tucker, who after working 20 years for the city’s housing division has spent the last two-plus years as the housing development director for Affordable Housing Solutions.

“Working with the city has been a strong relationship. If it weren’t for the city and these other organizations, that provide the funds, it would literally be impossible to provide affordable housing in the area.”

Jackson is seeing more of these collaborations across the country.

“It comes from the heart,” Jackson said. “People care about their neighbors, and people are coming up with lots of creative solutions to put funding packages together in order to create the kinds of opportunities that are needed in order to house as many of their neighbors as they possibly can.”

Tucker works with both the donors and the benefactors.

“The people that qualify for the program are genuinely happy,” Tucker said. “They’re overwhelmed, because normally they wouldn’t get the opportunity to acquire their home if wasn’t for programs like Affordable Housing Solutions.”

To qualify for the housing, owners must meet the HUD guidelines of being at or below 80 percent of the area’s median income, which currently is $90,700 for a family of four.

Over 40 percent of the population in Sioux Falls qualifies, Tucker said. But applicants must also be able to receive a mortgage and make at least 40 thousand dollars a year, roughly.

The down payment is subjective and dependent on their income and loan values, Tucker said. If qualifying homeowners’ incomes are high enough, they are not eligible to receive down payment through AHS sources.

However, they could still receive up to $10,000 from a program called GROW SD. Some people receive $25,000 and some people receive nothing. Tucker does not set those. Instead, they are set by the mortgage lender and through the South Dakota Housing Development Authority. The buyers are eligible to receive up to $25,000, but not guaranteed.

One of past recipients was at Wednesday’s ceremony.

Thom Moore has lived in and out of Sioux Falls for about 30 years. When the time came for Moore to move his family back to Sioux Falls from Sioux City two years ago, he looked into what sort of help his family of six could get and found the AHS program.

He and his wife were able to purchase a three-bedroom, two bathroom house for their four children, ages 8 to 15, and things have only gotten better.

”We’re finishing the basement,” Moore said, “and then it will be 5 bedrooms, 3 bathrooms on the west side of town, and we love it.”

Moore described the process to apply as “really simple” and without red tape. And he found working with Tucker “awesome.”

“I mean, he returns your calls. He reaches out to get you the paperwork you need and, yeah, it was a pretty simple process.”

The homeowner said nobody should feel too prideful to ask for help from the government for a project like this.

“You don’t know unless you try,” Moore said. “Go apply and you may be a recipient of one of these new homes.”

When asked what to tell citizens who can afford housing on their own who may have an issue with federal grants going to those who can’t, Jackson’s response was passionate, bordering on emotional.

“Everybody deserves an affordable place to live,” Jackson said. “Everybody deserves to be able to tuck their child into bed where it’s warm. Everybody deserves a stove on which to cook a warm meal for their elderly parent. Everyone deserves a light switch they can turn on so they might be able to study, so they can go to school. Everybody deserves an address in which to fill out, to put on that employment application.

“We are all human. (Projects like) this come from a place of love.”

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