Affordable housing program kicks off in Tyndall

Heartland grant helps city prepare for home

A recently launched program aimed at improving affordable housing in South Dakota has delivered its first home to Tyndall, SD.

The South Dakota Housing Development Authority created the DakotaPlex Program in response to the shortage of affordable housing in rural communities.

The DakotaPlex program features one, two- and three-bedroom units to be used as a duplex, triplex or quadriplex and must be placed in rural communities with populations of 5,000 or less.

The community must show a documented need for housing via market or housing needs study.

City earns grant towards DakotaPlex project

The project was announced in May 2019 and in June Tyndall was announced as the pilot community. In August, the SDHDA Board of Commissioners approved DakotaPlex as an ongoing program.

South Dakota Governor Kristi Noem touted the DakotaPlex program and its benefits on Twitter in late November.

Heartland awarded the city of Tyndall a $5,000 economic development grant to help with extension of utility services including electric, water and sewer to new housing lots where the DakotaPlex unit is being placed.

“Housing is essential to development, particularly in rural communities,” said Heartland Director of Economic Development and Governmental Affairs Casey Crabtree. “The DakotaPlex program is an innovative way to address this issue and Heartland is excited to see the program launch in Tyndall.”

Units offered as affordable rentals

The units feature quality construction including pre-engineered floor and roof trusses, advanced framing techniques and each unit is tested with a blower door for air leakage prior to delivery. The units are highly energy efficient, common walls are soundproof and fire resistant.

They are also designed to be low maintenance with prefinished vinyl siding with a lifetime warranty available in 2 different colors. The exterior also features prefinished aluminum soffits and fascia, pre-finished faux stone accents, vinyl casement windows a steel exterior door.

The units also include electrical mechanical equipment including a 50-gallon water heater and ducted heat pump.

A rendering of a duplex unit from the South Dakota Housing Authority’s DakotaPlex program.

DakotaPlex units cannot be owner-occupied, but rather offered as affordable rentals.

The DakotaPlex concept evolved from a desire to take the community benefits of the successful Governor’s House program and apply it to multi-family opportunities.

The Governor’s House program was created in 1996 as a way to provide reasonably sized, affordable homes to income-qualified individuals and families. More than 2,000 Governor’s Houses have been sold since program inception.

Revitalizing rural South Dakota

Hometowns are the heartbeat of South Dakota. I’m proud to be from a rural hometown. It’s where I learned the values of hard work and self-reliance, where Bryon and I chose to raise our kids, where we started an insurance business and hunting lodge, and where my family has farmed and ranched for a century. But many small towns like ours are struggling today.

As I tour our state’s businesses and meet with employers, I heard the same challenge of what is holding them back: workforce shortages.

In South Dakota, according to our most recent statistics, we have 15,363 job openings and 13,600 people actively looking for work. Unfortunately, what we have is a skills gap – those unemployed workers don’t have the skills necessarily to fill the open jobs. 

I strongly believe that the best way to prepare our young people for their careers is through work experience. Over the coming year, I’m asking school leaders to work with me to dramatically increase work experience in our high schools.  We need more CTE and skills training in high school.  We need more apprenticeship programs.  And we need more opportunities for young people to get out of the classroom and experience a real job.   

I would like our high schools to join together each year to hold a “Week of Work.”  This will be a special week when every high school student will get out of the classroom to experience a day on the job. I hope this can lead to schools coordinating more internships and experience-based classes.   

Another state-imposed barrier to workforce can be professional licensure.  I am directing the Department of Labor and Regulation, over the next year, to work with our professional organizations and licensure boards to conduct a full review of licensing requirements.  We need to consider the elimination of unnecessary licenses, opportunities to streamline the licensure process, and options to fast-track licenses for apprentices, in-state graduates, veterans, and military personnel and their families. We can’t let unneeded red tape get in the way of growth.  

Furthermore, I want to break down barriers to help fill workforce shortages. In our smaller communities and more rural areas, affordable housing creates difficulties for employers. Earlier this year, I announced a pilot project by the South Dakota Housing Development Authority to help fix this problem.

We will be building new modular multi-housing units, called DakotaPlex, at the state prison facility in Springfield. It will be similar to the Governor’s Houses, but built as duplex, triplex, or quadriplex units.  South Dakota communities of less than 5000 people will be eligible to purchase these units and offer them for rent at affordable levels. 

I’m confident this new project will help our smaller communities expand housing options for workers.  I believe the most sustainable way to strengthen rural communities is to expand economic opportunity, and that can only come from a healthy workforce.

I am fully committed to revitalizing South Dakota’s rural culture, so small-town schools and businesses can thrive for generations to come.