“Workforce Housing” Committee meets in Pierre

The "Workforce Housing Needs" committee is tasked with finding solutions to the housing shortage currently being experienced in South Dakota.
Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 12:06 AM CDT
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PIERRE, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - The issue of housing availability has come up a number of times in a variety of South Dakota communities, as homebuyers weigh their options in a highly competitive market.

However, the South Dakota State Legislature sees the housing issue as one that affects workforce availability, and ultimately, South Dakota’s ability to grow.

That’s why the legislature dispatched a summer study committee to look for ways to solve the problem.

“It doesn’t matter if you go to our smallest community or our largest community, everybody has a workforce issue, and part of that workforce issue is a lack of housing,” said State Sen. Casey Crabtree (R-Madison). Crabtree co-chairs the committee. “That lack of housing can come in all sizes, all shapes, and all different price points.”

People with recent homebuying experience, or who are around the industry say that the current demand in the state is unprecedented.

“The market prices are definitely up big time, and our inventory is down big time,” said Meredith Lee, owner of Lee Real Estate. “There are 18 houses on the market in Pierre right now... So we are at about a quarter of the inventory as compared to usual.”

It is not just Pierre dealing with the issue of housing availability, communities big and small across the state are dealing with the same phenomenon.

“There are some good ideas out there, such as renovation districts,” Crabtree said. “If someone renovates an area or a home, maybe they wouldn’t be penalized so hard on their property taxes afterward... There are also some really good ideas with red tape that have been talked about so far, and how to get that out of the way.”

While efforts by the legislature to solve the housing problem may be far off, the South Dakota Housing Development Authority is just one organization that offers a variety of amenities to help potential homebuyers, particularly those looking to buy for the first time ever.

“The first step is to find a good local lender, and a good local relator,” Lee said. “You can get on there list to see things before they are on the MLS. The most important thing is to stay patient. It isn’t a fun process, and it is not going to be fun until you’re sitting on the couch in your new house.”

The Workforce Housing Needs committee will meet a number of times throughout the summer, with the ultimate goal of bringing tangible solutions to the 2022 state legislative session.

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