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Rapid City housing need spurs public comment session

Screenshot 2023-05-19
C.J. Keene
South Dakota Public Broadcasting
Housing is among one of the most significant needs in Rapid City as the community continues to grow

The housing struggles in the Black Hills are no secret. As the population continues to grow, advocates say solutions need to be found now.

A round of public hearings will hopefully give leaders in Rapid City insight into what the community wants to see in upcoming developments.

Michelle Schuelke is manager of the city community relations division. She said there’s a need for over 5,500 homes by 2030.

“Affordable housing is the need for all spectrums, from the lowest income to the highest income, all over the city," Schuelke said. "CDBG can be used to address that need in small ways, but really, we’re looking at identifying other ways we can help. Can we leverage other funding? Can we leverage other ways we do affordable housing? How we build, where we build.”

CDBG, or the community development block grant program, is a federal funding program.

Schuelke said the market is squeezing Rapid City from every angle.

“We are seeing a bit of a softer market in the mid-range housing in Rapid City, but what’s happening is the shortage in low-priced housing and high-priced housing, it’s artificially increasing the pricing of 'mid-price' housing, Schuelke said. "What does that do? It creates a problem for everybody.”

With its desirable mountain real estate, Rapid City shows no signs of slowing down its growth. Schuelke said that’s why these conversations need to start today.

“Some things we do now will work well in the future, but not everything," Schuelke said. "We have to look at things like increasing density and where that makes sense. We have to look at things like infrastructure, where are the roads and where are roads needed? We also have a situation where short-term rentals are part of the fabric of our community, and we have to understand how that affects affordable housing.”

The meeting is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 16, at 3 p.m. in the library community room.

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