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Habitat for Humanity pushes for Black Hills housing developments

Scott Engmann speaks to donors at the gala
C.J. Keene
Scott Engmann speaks to donors at the gala

Habitat for Humanity may build homes for one family at a time, but they also see troubling housing trends in the Black Hills.

The Black Hills chapter of Habitat hosted an auction in Rapid City this week to raise funds for their next construction project – another much-needed single-family home.

Chapter executive director Scott Engmann said after a crazy COVID housing market, there’s need across the board in the hills.

“What we find is that there’s just housing need at every price point. And as much as we need the affordable stuff like Habitat does, we also need a little bit nicer stuff so the people who want that can get into that," Engmann said. "Freeing up those other units to become more affordable for the middle market.”

One proposal could bring dozens of multi-family, medium-density units to Rapid City.

“We have a really cool project were working on and looking for city support on for about 50 townhomes in Rapid City, but it’s a situation where we need to work more closely with the city and the mayor’s office," Engmann said. "We’re optimistic that’s going to come together this year.”

But Engmann said he doesn’t want to see city administrators living in 1973.

“Flexible zoning and flexibility as it relates to new design types and what neighborhoods will look like in the future – that’s what I’m asking city planners to be thinking about," Engmann said. "Don’t dwell on what we did 50 years ago. Look at the ordinance books and say, ‘Where do we need to go to maximize the usage of every square foot.'”

Engmann noted developments in Box Elder could ease pressure on the East Rapid rental market, but said density will be another important consideration in the city proper moving forward.

C.J. Keene is a Rapid City-based journalist covering the legal system, education, and culture