The housing crisis worsens under Noem; Biden’s infrastructure plan can help – Dakota Free Press


Between national campaign fundraising trips to sunny Texas and Florida last winter, part-time Governor Kristi Noem has muttered something about her drive to make South Dakota homes more affordable. This statement was just a pretext for further gutting local control labeled as deregulation (not a novel or effective idea, just another ideological bushwah borrowing of the White House’s latest type).

But all of the Frozen’s pretexts, retreaded summer studies and crony capitalist tax breaks around the world won’t change market fundamentals: demand is up, wages aren’t, and the Dakotas of the South are priced out of their own housing and rental market:

The frenetic market is pushing up house prices and making homeownership more difficult for low and middle income residents. The average annual income of $ 45,000 in South Dakota cannot compete with the purchasing power of a six-figure out-of-state salary. Long-time residents who would normally be able to purchase a home are forced to stay in rental properties, further limiting the rental units available to families in need of affordable housing.

“All of this demand doesn’t seem like it can be fueled by buying homes, so it’s going into the rental market,” said Bryan Achbach, director of the Pennington County Housing and Redevelopment Commission.

Many large complexes used by the coalition in Rapid City are at 100% capacity with waiting lists, which is not normal, Achbach said. Commission customers have struggled to find homes to rent and existing tenants are seeing rents rise rapidly, Achbach said.

“Families are put in a very difficult situation for circumstances which are really beyond their control,” he said. [Danielle Ferguson, “Frenzied Housing Market Putting Homeownership out of Reach for Some South Dakotans,” South Dakota News Watch, 2021.05.14].

Even the cheap houses that the state builds with prison labor cost more due to the shortage of building materials:

Last year, lumber for a home would cost Sioux Falls area builder Mike Schlapkohl an average of about $ 30,000. This year, prices are averaging over $ 52,000, an increase of 73%. Prices for other building materials are also rising, especially those made in parts of the country that have closed for longer periods during the pandemic, such as California. Much of the resin used to make PVC and OSB pipe is imported from Texas, where a frost in February halted manufacturing.

“The factories closed and were not producing material, but the demand remained the same or increased,” Schlapkohl said.

… The costs of materials to build homes under the Governor’s House program have increased by about 19%, said Lori Moen, COO of Grow South Dakota. Governor’s Houses are affordable homes built at Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield for low to middle income families [Ferguson, 2021.05.14].

South Dakota could end up like Vail, with wealthy people from elsewhere grabbing all the prime real estate and leaving its workers with no place to live. Fortunately for Vail and for South Dakota, the Biden administration is willing to spend $ 213 billion on affordable housing:

Biden NHIA [Neighborhood Homes Investment Act] The proposal is part of a $ 213 billion commitment to “Produce, Preserve and Renovate Over One Million Affordable, Resilient, Accessible, Energy Efficient and Electrified Homes.” Through targeted tax credits, funding formulas, grants and project-based rental assistance, President Biden’s plan will expand affordable housing rental opportunities to underserved communities across the country. nationwide, including rural and tribal areas. This includes $ 40 billion for improved public housing, as well as a “$ 27 billion clean energy and sustainability accelerator to leverage private investment in distributed energy resources; renovations of residential, commercial and municipal buildings; and clean transport. These investments are particularly focused on disadvantaged communities that have not yet benefited from investments in clean energy ” [Buzz Roberts, “The Biden Infrastructure Plan and Its Effect on Housing,” National Housing Conference, 2021.04.04].

Biden’s infrastructure plan also recognizes that affordable housing is part of the infrastructure:

“Housing is critical infrastructure,” said Philip Stoker, professor of landscape architecture and planning at the University of Arizona. Stoker’s research examined the impact of housing affordability on commuting. If the housing stock for the workforce is not available, he explained, it simply forces people to move further and further away, straining roads or transportation. in common.

And it’s not just academic theory for [Moab city manager Joe] Linares…. When trying to hire someone to work for the city of Moab, it is often difficult to get them to stay.

He will make them a job offer, they will accept, move to town and live in a caravan or motorhome while looking for more permanent accommodation. But after two months, they give up and go back to where they originally moved from. “They say ‘I can’t afford to live here. I can’t find accommodation. This happens often, ”said Linares. [Sofia Jeremias, “How an Infrastructure Bill Can Help Rural Communities in the West,” Deseret News, 2021.04.23].

… and infrastructure is essential for housing:

Biden’s plan also includes investments in water supply infrastructure, including upgrading drinking water supply and sanitation systems and replacing lead pipes. The plan proposed by the Republicans would also spend $ 35 billion for drinking water and wastewater, and $ 14 billion for water storage.

Planning for future water needs and future availability amid warming temperatures and drought is another critical need for rural communities, experts said. Seth Arens is a researcher for Wester Water Assessment, a program funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The objective of the program is to help regions understand, prepare for and adapt to climate change.

Regarding infrastructure, Arens said in some cases additional water storage might be needed, although building dams is much more difficult today than it was in the 20th century. [Jeremias, 2021.04.23].

Of course, the biggest thing Biden’s infrastructure plan can do to get more South Dakotas and other workers back into the housing market is to create millions of well-paying construction jobs. No matter what else we do, an affordable housing market depends on jobs and wages. The current housing shortage in South Dakota is driven by buyers who can import their higher wages (and, in many cases, thanks to the internet, their higher paying jobs) to grab South Dakota homes at prices. geared toward depressed wages in South Dakota. Raise South Dakota’s wages, especially for the working class, not just trusted lawyers and other wealth hiders, and much of the housing crisis goes away.

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