Thomas Boggs: Moving Forward with a Governor’s House

Thomas Boggs loved his house in his hometown of Alexandria. He loved its many windows and the way it was decorated. He had lived there for years. It was home.

On April 11, 2013, in the aftermath of a spring blizzard that left Alexandria without electricity for several days, Boggs lost his home to an early morning fire. Piles of snow prevented fire crews from getting to the blaze. "The fire trucks got stuck a block away from my house and everything burned," said Boggs. However he feels fortunate that no lives were lost. "I was lucky to make it out. If I would have gone back in, there would have been no coming back," commented Boggs.

For Boggs, the Governor's House program was an answer to a crisis. He was able to make the arrangements for a home and placed his order on May 1, less than three weeks after the fire. The home was delivered on June 12.

The Governor's House program has met a wide variety of needs across South Dakota. The Governor's House is an affordable route to homeownership for people with disabilities, single parents, working couples and elderly South Dakotans. More than 2,100 houses have been built since the program began in 1996. Beyond providing needed housing to South Dakota residents who income qualify, the program allows inmates building the homes at the Mike Durfee State Prison in Springfield to gain job skills they can use after they are released.

When people like Boggs move into their Governor's House, they begin the process of turning them into homes. For Boggs, that includes some painting. "All these homes come in white and I'm going to paint some walls tan," said Boggs. He also learned a hard lesson this spring, "Don't take what you have for granted, especially when it's your home. In an instant you can lose it all."