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Local organizations to build new affordable housing in Baltic

The now-empty lot in Baltic where Habitat for Humanity will build new workforce housing for the community.
Sioux Metro Growth Alliance
The now-empty lot in Baltic where Habitat for Humanity will build new workforce housing for the community.

The Baltic Area Development Foundation has partnered with the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance and Habitat for Humanity to create more affordable housing in its community.

The three organizations will create workforce housing at a formerly condemned property in Baltic. Workforce housing is a lower-cost option for people just entering the workforce or working jobs that pay at or below the median wage.

Jesse Fonkert, president and CEO of Sioux Metro Growth Alliance, says the alliance came to work with Baltic on this project after helping the community start its economic development organization.

“The Baltic Area Development Foundation was created in January of this year, and so we helped them get that process started, and we also have provided the staff for that organization through our partnership with the city of Baltic,” he said. “And so, the fact that this seven-month-old organization already has a product under its belt, it’s pretty cool.”

Sioux Metro Growth Alliance is also offering staff support for the project through economic development specialists who provide advice to the city council or relevant boards and help the organization execute whatever developmental decisions they make.

Fonkert says the alliance contacted the executive director for Habitat for Humanity for Greater Sioux Falls, Rocky Welker, about helping to redevelop the land. Fonkert says Welker was looking for lots.

“And at the same time, we were working in Baltic to see what the city needed, and the city needed to have this property developed,” Fonkert said.

The land has been turned over to Habitat for Humanity to begin construction, which Fonkert expects will start in spring 2023. Applications are open for families to live in the new housing once it is completed.

Sioux Metro Growth Alliance works with 15 rural and suburban communities, including Baltic, in Lincoln, Minnehaha and McCook counties to promote economic development and growth in these communities through housing, workforce development and more.

Fonkert says housing affordability plays an important role in whether people move from rural communities into more urban areas like Sioux Falls, as price gaps can make it difficult to find a place to live.

“And so how do we get folks either to stay in those towns or to be able to afford decent living here, and as prices increase across the board, it just presents a lot of challenges,” he said.

Though the Sioux Metro Growth Alliance has not helped with many workforce housing projects yet, many towns in the Sioux Falls areas are working to make living in their communities more affordable through programs offered by the South Eastern Development Foundation.

Jordan is a senior English and journalism major at SDSU in Brookings. She is from De Smet, South Dakota. She is based out of the Sioux Falls studio.