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Neighborhood Stabilization Funds (NSP) Funding Creates Affordable Housing

First inside view of new studio apartments

The site of this facility was formerly a dilapidated property that was an eyesore to the neighborhood. The old property was purchased by the Sioux Falls Housing Corporation, a non-profit group that provides affordable housing in Sioux Falls. They were able to use funding through the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) to purchase the dilapidated property, raze it, and construct the existing building. The total cost of the project was $419,392 with $364,892 from NSP, $39,500 from HOME funds and $15,000 from the City of Sioux Falls.

There are eight studio apartments with an average size of 321 square feet. Each apartment has a secure entrance, laundry facilities, and all utilities provided, with the exception of cable and phone. Rent for four of the units is $310 - $340 to persons with an annual gross income at 30% or less of the area median income. Rent for the remaining four units is $375 - $395 to persons with an annual gross income at 40% or less of the area median income.

One person's success story - She moved in on the first of December, 2010.

Biruta Price is starting anew. Biruta's parents immigrated to the United States after World War II from a German Refugee camp. They moved to South Dakota to be close to a relative and eventually settled in Sioux Falls. Biruta graduated from a Sioux Falls High School and quickly moved on. After many years of living elsewhere, she moved from Spokane Washington to Sioux Falls in 2001 to take care of her mother. Her father had already passed away and her mother was in failing health so she, as the oldest daughter, single and her children were grown, felt obligated to care for her aging mother. To her pleasant surprise, Biruta's mother lived until July 2007. During this time she was the primary caregiver.

Second inside view of new studio apartments

After her mother's death, Biruta continued living in the house, fixing it little by little, getting it ready to sell. She also was the executor of the will and worked diligently at getting those affairs in order. Knowing she could not live in the house for an extended time and knowing there was a long list for assisted housing, she applied for subsidized housing right after her mother's death. When the house was about to sell in early 2010 she went to housing and found that her name was not on the list. The house sold in February 2010 and this was the beginning of homelessness for Biruta.

From February 2010 until December 2010 Biruta was homeless. She lived in her car with the exception of two months where she lived at a friend's house while recuperating from surgery. Being homeless and looking for work and housing was a full time job. Biruta receives some financial assistance through Social Security Disability but any non-subsidized housing unit would have taken the majority of her finances. Even with subsidized housing, and without part time employment to help, she would have had to give up her car because she could not afford both. This made housing choices even more difficult because without transportation, she would have to find housing close to public transportation.

Even with her disability, Biruta is able to work part time to help supplement her Social Security income. However, without housing it is difficult to find work. To get a job she not only needed a physical address but a place to store belongings, get rested and a place to clean up. Without those basic necessities, finding a job was virtually impossible. Without a job she could not afford housing and without housing she could not get a job.

She signed up for a Housing Choice Voucher and obtained a list of subsidized properties in Sioux Falls. She quickly found out that each individual property has its own application process and its own waiting list. Being homeless, limited phone usage and limited money for gas became an obstacle in even applying for housing.

Third inside view of new studio apartments

Being homeless creates an "enormous learning curve" said Biruta. Having to learn what services or programs were available, how to apply for them, and who to talk with to find out about all the programs was challenging. Not only that, but she also had to learn how to survive in the homeless world. This took lots of time, energy, and money that she did not have. Being a very persistent and intelligent person, Biruta never gave up and continued to talk to anyone and everyone she could about her situation. She finally learned of a housing option that just became available. An 8-plex affordable apartment building had just been completed. She moved in on the first of December, 2010.

Biruta was now able to find part time employment to supplement her Social Security. She even helps around the apartment complex by cleaning the hallways and doing other minor things. Biruta is happy she has a place to call home.


Content Archived: October 16, 2013

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