Democrats Are Focused on Solving South Dakota’s Housing Crisis
By SDDP Chair Randy Seiler
South Dakota is a great place to raise your family. It’s a beautiful state with “now hiring” signs in every window. Raising your family in South Dakota should be an obvious choice. But for many working families looking to move to South Dakota or stay in South Dakota, they can find a job but not an affordable place to live.
In our small towns, it can be nearly impossible to find a place to live. Think about a De Smet Bulldog who goes to college, graduates, and wants to move back home. In our 21st century economy, finding a job that will let them work from anywhere isn’t the problem. The problem is that when they open Zillow, the few houses available in De Smet all cost $250,000 or more. It’s no wonder South Dakota ranks high on the list for “brain drain” as our young people leave the state.
Housing isn’t just a problem in our small towns. According to a 2021 housing needs report by Augustana University, the city of Sioux Falls is short 4,500 housing units. And Rapid City is seeing a shortage of around 3,500 housing units, according to the Rapid City Strategic Housing Initiative & Trust Fund. In total, South Dakota is short over 10,000 housing units.
The housing shortage across South Dakota is causing a huge uptick in prices. Even if that young family returning to De Smet can find an available home, it’s probably not affordable. Unless we invest in workforce housing, this housing shortage will only grow as more people and businesses move to our state.
This year, the South Dakota Legislature had a few opportunities to address our housing shortage. Legislators passed HB 1033 to establish a grant process for infrastructure related to housing developments, but SB 65, which would open up funds for affordable housing through the American Rescue Plan, failed in the House due to Republican opposition. Every Democrat voted in favor of investing in affordable housing, but Republicans stood in the way.
Legislators should be focused on solving the important everyday issues facing South Dakotans. Through the American Rescue Plan, the Biden Administration provided an opportunity for South Dakota to invest in solving our housing shortage, but Republican legislators stood in the way of common-sense solutions.
The lesson here is clear: if you want your legislators to deliver for you on the important issues facing South Dakota, like our housing shortage, vote for Democrats. With more Democrats in Pierre, bills like SB 65 will become law and improve the lives of all South Dakotans.
Randy Seiler is the Chair of the South Dakota Democratic Party.