Habitat for Humanity stands on the ideal that everyone deserves and longs for a secure, safe place to call home. A place that feels affordable and manageable. We were encouraged when Mayor Paul TenHaken introduced the One Sioux Falls Initiative and it included accessible housing as one of the four cornerstones. It brings us back to the day, 30 years ago, when local leaders launched a social justice study of the condition of housing in this community.
Fast forward to 2019 and Habitat for Humanity of Greater Sioux Falls is celebrating 30 years of working tirelessly to help individuals and families achieve strength, stability and self-reliance through shelter.
Sioux Falls Habitat has empowered 160 families to achieve their dream of home ownership and resourced 178 families to be able to stay in their homes through our Neighborhood Revitalization program. More than 500 children are healthier, getting better grades in school and believing in their future.
Imagine the economic impact of that. There are 254 homeowners, previously considered low-income, who are paying property taxes, retaining gainful employment, pursuing higher education (as is common amongst Habitat families) and managing a budget with fewer worries. They are shopping more often, because they have the expendable income. They are better equipped to pursue preventative medical care versus require emergency care. They are more involved in our community, as advocates for issues that speak to them.
The value of a home cannot be overstated. When a person feels their home is stable, they have more time and energy to devote to work, education, health, family and different ways they can contribute to our community.
Recently Habitat staff laid out a map of the first 55 houses we built or rehabilitated, starting with the very first home we completed in 1991. From one corner of town to the other, it is interesting to see how the neighborhoods flow together and how this area has grown. Regardless of socioeconomic status, every neighborhood seems to include kids’ bicycles and swing sets, basketball hoops and dog kennels. It reminded us of how home always comes down to family.
Whether you’re a single person who likes to have their friends over, a new family welcoming their first child, or you have three kids and are making ends meet, home should be your happy place. And 1,279 people have had the opportunity to find their happy place with Habitat for Humanity! Yet, there is always more work to be done. During our 2019 home ownership program application drive, we received 10 applications for every one that was approved for the program.
One Sioux Falls has put the spotlight on accessible housing, workforce, safety and health, and engaging people. We all benefit when we embrace these cornerstones that support a growing community. Habitat for Humanity believes that by prioritizing accessible housing, we develop a thriving workforce, help care for our neighbors’ health and safety, and engage in conversation with those we agree with and learn from those we don’t necessarily agree with.
Each cornerstone is like a pillar for the foundation of Sioux Falls and our combined efforts make for a stronger, more vibrant community. We encourage you to explore new ideas and collaborations, as the opportunities are endless.