Scott Engmann: Habitat for Humanity

Scott Engmann, an eleven year veteran of the housing industry, knows a thing or two about the importance of homeownership. Engmann, Executive Director of the Black Hills Area Habitat for Humanity, believes that the need for housing is the highest he has ever seen it in the Black Hills. He is concerned that the goal of affordability may be slipping away.

"The combination of tightening credit and rising rent levels has created a very acute need, which particularly affects the hard-working hourly employees in our growing service sector, as well as the returning military veterans and those who have been impacted by the economic downturn," stated Engmann.

Credit was readily available until 2008, which made traditional financing a real option for many who had less than excellent credit and minimal cash reserves. Once credit tightened and housing starts started falling off, the supply of affordable housing dried up and qualified buyers became very hard to find.

This is where Engmann believes that SDHDA and Habitat for Humanity have become so helpful in keeping the affordable homeownership market afloat. The partnership between the two have breached the gap and helped struggling families obtain an affordable home. Habitat for Humanity has been able to build homes in part with financing from HOME funds provided by SDHDA.

Habitat for Humanity is solely focused on homeownership opportunities for working families who can't qualify for traditional financing. Engmann and his team support these families by giving them not only affordable options, but extensive hands-on training through financial coaching and development of life skills.

"Homeownership for families is often the single most effective financial planning tool, because it is forced savings. Homeownership provides a financial base for families that extends generationally, and a context for lasting memories," he said. "The research is very clear: homeownership improves health, test scores and civic engagement. We cannot underestimate the impact of families who are invested in their homes. They create neighborhoods of pride and accountability."