Elevate Rapid City seeks input on how to expand affordable housing

Published: Jul. 1, 2021 at 6:54 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - The Rapid City community has been steadily growing over the past few years.

But, with an expanding economy and more opportunities at Ellsworth Air Force Base, the number of people moving into town is expected to grow exponentially.

Elevate Rapid City kicked off a series of panel discussions at the Rushmore Hotel regarding economic development in Rapid City. Thursday’s discussion was focused on the topic of creating more affordable housing as people move to the area.

Elevate Rapid City president Tom Johnson said that east river communities in South Dakota often get more resources for development, and this needs to change if there’s going to be enough housing for the population growth. They hope to achieve this by convincing lawmakers to fund more housing development resources in the area in the coming years.

“For us, it’s about advocating for what we think is right,” Johnson said. “We think we have a good, compelling case with how fast this place is growing, the kind of companies and workers that want to be here. So, we think we have a compelling case to make that pitch to Pierre or Washington, that resources need to come to Rapid City.”

Elevate Rapid City says thousands of people will be moving to Rapid in the coming years. This creates a more urgent need for affordable housing and for expanding the economy.

Johnson said that both the shifting local economy and the tourist destinations in the area are contributing to younger people moving to Rapid.

“There were always people who wanted to retire here, what we’re seeing now with this growth is folks who are 25 to 45 years old deciding to come to Rapid City because they want this kind of quality of life.”

Johnson said that the city is 3,500 units shy of where we’ll need to be in a decade to accommodate the new residents.

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