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Women on the frontlines of the housing crisis

For the next three days, women will exclusively help build a Habitat for Humanity home in Rapid City
Published: May. 5, 2022 at 5:59 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - For more than 20 years, Habitat for Humanity has tried to do their part to help women in the community.

They do so with an annual event called Women Build.

Women Build is three days long and teaches women home building in a safe environment, and allows women to assist in solving a housing need for another woman in the community.

”Housing,” asserts Kyla Wright, Volunteer. “It’s not a luxury. It’s a need.”

A need people like Kimberly Wallace, with Habitat for Humanity, are trying to solve.

“Women Build is an amazing Habitat tradition. It was this concept that we want to bring women together and make them comfortable on the construction site.”

Learning new skills that Wright says are “a lot of fun, but at the same time you feel like you’re serving.”

One small victory at a time. With an overarching goal for the day. “To get the ceiling built,” Amanda Millard, Volunteer, says, “and somebody gets to live in this home eventually when it’s all said and done.”

Homes like the one the ladies are building are not only built with brute strength, strategy and physical labor, but with funding. Where this year, Rep. Jess Olson, District 34, says there was an immense amount of federal funding to divvy up in South Dakota. Which, she says “can get to be tough decisions and tough conversations for everybody, but we were able to move all of the 200-million dollars into South Dakota Housing Authority.”

That can be seen as grants and ongoing, revolving funds that ought to last for years ahead which organizations like Habitat can seek. “So,” says Wallace, “it gives us the up front capital we need to get projects like this off the ground.” Which Olson says is “to support affordable, quality homes.” In a market Habitat says is getting more and more expensive to build in.

Wallace says the single bathroom, four bedroom home they’re building would appraise for 226-thousand dollars. “That’s crazy. That’s crazy to come up with that.” She says that’s especially so for single women coming out of the pandemic who are statistically more impacted. That’s why “predominantly who we serve through the Habitat program are women.”

Wallace says there’s fellowship in building where “women are on site learning together, growing together.” And, providing a home for another woman in the community, where she says volunteers “also know the women that we serve. They’re women like themselves.”

Much like the support she’d like to see from the community at large, women are banding together for common goals, education and battling the housing crisis, and ultimately “Com[ing] together and just do[ing] something for each other.”

Each screw invested into the structure of this home is the beginning framework to benefit someone else. Olson says, “the woman who is buying this house -- part of that is so her kids can go to school nearby, safely get to school. She knows that they’re okay. She can go to work.” Creating a stable and safe environment, “so that she can grow their family.” Partially thanks to these ladies laying the groundwork.

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