How the struggle to find affordable housing is hindering the local economy growth

Finding affordable housing is a challenge in the area, creating a barrier for the economy and community to grow
The lack of affordable housing is putting a lid on the local economy and city growth
The lack of affordable housing is putting a lid on the local economy and city growth(Gillian Trudeau)
Published: Jun. 17, 2021 at 4:11 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) -Finding affordable housing can be a challenge for people.

“The state of housing in Rapid City and the Black Hills area is really in a state of crisis,” Scott Engman, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity said, “For years I’ve been talking about a state of crisis, but now I almost see it as a house on fire because we’re looking at a situation where people don’t have options for housing.”

Engman says housing isn’t affordable in Rapid City for the average family, he adds that you need two income earners who are earning about 20 dollars an hour with benefits in order to afford a place to live.

“The thing with an affordable home that sometimes we forget is that when you have one, you have a situation financially where you can thrive in the community,” Engman said.

And thriving in the community means being able to afford all parts of living, such as medical expenses, childcare, and essential bills, along with your housing costs.

“When you start paying more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income, it just becomes really very challenging and we see families struggling because of that,” he said.

These challenges aren’t only affecting local people, but also the businesses trying to expand and the overall growth in the area’s economy.

“Another really interesting thing is you look at the local economy, one of the biggest things that companies are looking at when they’re bringing their companies here, is how affordable is the housing? Are there places where our employees can live?” Engman said, “To lift the lid on our local economy we have to have housing for everyone.”

However, it’s not all looking like a downward spiral, there are solutions.

“The cities of our surrounding municipalities are all acknowledging the housing need and they’re all coming to the table, I think with eagerness to figure this out and to come up with new solutions to address the housing crisis,” he said, “And frankly if people don’t have a place they can live that’s suitable for their family, everything comes to a screeching halt.”

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