District III: Innovative Approach to Housing

When your job is to improve housing and economic conditions in a geographic area the size of Maryland, you must be willing to try new approaches. The Planning and Development District III service area includes 16 counties in south central South Dakota, three tribal governments, 62 cities and more than 100,000 people living in 13,000 square miles. Greg Henderson, Executive Director (pictured, at right), and the District III staff, who work out of Yankton, have been improving housing for years.

Henderson appreciates that SDHDA staff have been willing to let his organization experiment with new approaches to housing development. "They've helped us to be innovative," Henderson said. "They will help you try new things, which is not always true with a government agency."

District III was among the first regional development organizations to place a Governor's House when the program began in the 1990s. Since then District III has placed more than 300 houses in the district, Henderson said.

District III and SDHDA have worked together on a number of new initiatives in southeast South Dakota. A recent program, Home Address, was launched by the Rural Housing Collaborative. Home Address coaches and assists communities as they determine their housing needs.

Another project, with startup funds provided by SDHDA, resulted in the Prairieland Housing Development, a nonprofit group formed to construct affordable single-family housing. They developed lots and placed eight modified Governor's Houses in Alexandria, Emery, Plankinton and White Lake. The homes were then sold to area residents. The communities supported the project with resources such as land donations or downpayment assistance for the buyers. "Mark Lauseng and the staff were very supportive of trying that approach," Henderson said.

Currently SDHDA and District III are working on a program to allow towns to have a Governor's House as a show house on display in the community. "It's easier for someone to make a decision about buying a Governor's House if they can walk around inside one," stated Henderson. When the show house is sold, it would be moved to the home site and another show house would be delivered.