As South Dakota takes on our workforce challenges, the primary obstacle remains the availability of career housing so that families who move here have a place to live. New folks who are coming to South Dakota to fill our open jobs are running into a problem: a tight housing market makes it difficult to find a place to live.
It isn't the government's job to solve this problem. Instead, we need to find ways to help the free market build career housing to solve this problem. When Governor Noem talks about career housing, she is not referring to low-income housing – she’s talking about quality, middle-class housing that meets the needs of working families.
So far in 2022, South Dakota has had the largest increase in new housing development of any state in the nation. While that is excellent progress, more work is still necessary.
In her budget last year, Governor Noem proposed $200 million for housing infrastructure grants, to be matched dollar-for-dollar by both local governments and developers. While the funding eventually passed, the program was drastically changed, creating defects that have resulted in red tape and delays.
Governor Noem has consistently pointed out to the legislature that the housing plan they proposed focuses on low-income housing projects – not career housing – and primarily calls for loans, not grants. This makes it much more difficult for our small towns and rural areas to use this funding – a town of 3,000 people can’t pay back a loan. South Dakota does not need a new permanent housing subsidy – what we need is a shot in the arm that spurs immediate development of housing infrastructure in towns of every size.
Governor Noem will continue working with the legislature to fix these challenges in a way that allows us to invest in new housing development responsibly. More work is necessary, and the Governor looks forward to continuing her work on career housing in her second term.