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SD Program Aims to Bulldoze, Build, Beautify

South Dakota is using $1 million from a federal grant to tear down dilapidated buildings and make way for housing. (Jnzl's Photos/Flickr)
South Dakota is using $1 million from a federal grant to tear down dilapidated buildings and make way for housing. (Jnzl's Photos/Flickr)
August 7, 2017

PIERRE, S.D. – South Dakota is offering a new solution to the state's workplace housing shortage.

It’s a program called Bulldoze, Build and Beautify.

State officials say they've identified about 3,000 dilapidated structures across South Dakota that could be demolished and the property used for other purposes.

So the state is taking $1 million from the Community Development Block Grant provided by the federal government to remove blights from South Dakota communities.

Aaron Scheibe, deputy commissioner of the South Dakota Governor's Office of Economic Development, says it will help working-class South Dakotans.

"The solid workforce of a lot of our companies throughout the state,” he explains. “Individuals who earn a good wage, so they're not eligible for a lot of housing assistance programs, but maybe are not in a position to go out and to build their own house in the country or on the edge of town."

The deadline for applications is Aug. 18.

Scheibe says communities only need to send in bare-bones letters of intent and that his office will follow up later with a more significant application.

Scheibe says the program will mainly be in the hands of communities and what they feel is best for them.

Repurposing old lots is also cost-effective because most of the utility infrastructure needed is already there. And Scheibe adds that beautifying communities adds new financial resources.

"You have a higher property valuation and so the municipality – school district, the county – realizes more property tax because you have a structure that's worth a lot more than the previous one was,” he explains. “And so that brings additional resources in for the schools or for roads, etc."

The program is aimed at a state in transition. Scheibe hopes it can help accommodate more workers in rural parts of the state where employers are looking to expand but don't have the housing options to attract employees. He says towns can use the program to retain workers too.

Eric Tegethoff, Public News Service - SD