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SF High Schoolers Construct Affordable Housing

Erin Mairose

This week a house built by high school students is moving to a permanent home. The home is traveling down 12th street in Sioux Falls – and for a cause.

Wayne Wagner is the housing development director for Affordable Housing Solutions in Sioux Falls. The group helps low income families find cost-efficient housing while helping revitalize deteriorating neighborhoods. Wagner says a partnership with the Sioux Falls School District supports the community.

“And I think the thing we need to understand, and that we kind of have to get over, is that we’re treated affordable housing funding--so money we get through the city, through the state, through the federal government as entitlement funds—as more of a social service program. It does provide that need, but it’s also what I call an economic development tool. If we don’t have affordable housing for people to live in, it’s hard for us to attract new people into town. There is all different levels of employment in a community and you need to be able to have housing that’s available at all the different income levels and if you don’t especially at the lower end people will migrate towards what they can afford and it tends to be substandard housing,”  says Wagner.

Wagner says different income levels require different property options, and people who resort to living in substandard housing pay more in high heating bills and rental rates. He says a carpentry class in Sioux Falls offers lower income families an option.

“I didn’t really do much of the cabinet installation, but I did do some of the stud laying. So building the walls for it and framing it and stuff like that that’s my favorite part about carpentry…is building most of the walls.”

Students at the Career and Technical Education Academy spent a year building a three bedroom house. They framed it, built cabinets, wired the home and installed plumbing with assistance. Once moved, a qualifying family can buy the house and make it their home.