Development for the Disabled: Focused on Housing Needs

In the back of the minds of parents of adults with disabilities, is the question: "What will happen when I can no longer care for my child?" In the early 1990s, there were few answers. Safe and affordable housing was hard to find.

Rapid City businessman Bob Knecht, whose son suffered from severe mental illness, was keenly aware of the limited housing opportunities for adults with disabilities. "There were waiting lists with thousands of names," recalled Knecht, now retired. "Places for people with mental and physical disabilities were few and far between, because the funding was not there."

He joined others and formed Development for the Disabled Inc. (DDI). The group set out to create more housing options for South Dakotans with disabilities. A few years later, Harney View Apartments in Rapid City, a project designed specifically for the disabled, opened its doors. The 15-unit apartment building was constructed by Pennington County Housing and DDI, using a variety of funding sources which included HOME funds from SDHDA.

DDI has completed 31 different properties since 1992, acting as the developer or as a consultant. Their developments provide affordable housing options to people with severe mental illnesses, individuals with developmental disabilities, physical disabilities, substance abuse problems and age-related disabilities.

Hoby Abernathy, Development Specialist for DDI, said the need for quality, affordable housing is still very high in South Dakota. "We have worked with mental health centers or support providers all over the state," stated Abernathy. "There are waiting lists for people who want to get into these homes. Thanks to Bob Knecht, DDI and SDHDA, there are more housing opportunities for people with a variety of disabilities."