Mobridge chosen for housing program

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-Sara Bertsch

Help is on the way for the Mobridge housing crisis. A new program through the nonprofit group Dakota Resources called Home Address has recently chosen Mobridge to address the community housing needs and help develop new strategies in an 18-month long program.

“It’s huge news for Mobridge,” said Haden Merkel, executive director of the Mobridge Chamber of Commerce. “Dakota Resources will come in and teach us how we can fix our housing issue. This way we will be able to plan ahead and avoid a housing crunch like we are in right now.”

Michele Harrison, executive director of the Mobridge Economic Development Corporation, is working alongside Merkel to coordinate this housing project.

Harrison first found out about the project through the Mobridge Economic Development. They have an ongoing relationship with Dakota Resources and they came to Harrison about the project, knowing the community’s housing situation.

Harrison and Merkel joined forces and held an initial meeting with Home Address on May 22. At the meeting, community members joined to learn about the program. Business owners, real estate agents, contractors and employers attended the meeting while Home Address gave a synopsis of the program and what they do.

Home Address’ mission statement is “to increase community capacity for strategic housing development, now and in the future.” The community will do this with the help of a community coach. The coach will work side-by-side with the local convening team to gather conditions of housing stock, available resources and current and projected local demand for housing.

The local convening team members consist of Harley Overseth, Kyle Jensen, Haden Merkel, Gene Cox, Katie Zerr, Heidi Roshau, Keri Wientjes and Karen Pfitzer.

“We have a good group of people and it’s a good cross section of the interests involved,” Merkel said.

Before Mobridge was chosen, they first had to fill out an application by May 30. They sent in their first application shortly after having the initial meeting. After a long discussion with each of the team members, they decided to go ahead and apply.

Not long after, Home Address informed Harrison and Merkel that Mobridge was a finalist for the program. They then were instructed to complete the final application, which required a three-hour-long meeting with a representative of Dakota Resources. The meeting took place on Tuesday, June 17.

The next day Harrison and Merkel received word that Mobridge was selected to participate in the program along with DeSmet and Lemmon.

During the process, the local convening team was required to raise $5,000 in order to proceed with the program. The team raised $6,000 thanks to Mobridge Regional Hospital and Clinics, the City of Mobridge, Mobridge Economic Development, Dacotah Bank, West River Telecommunications, Dakota Radio Group, Jensen Rock and Sand and the Mobridge Chamber of Commerce.

The next step that the local convening team will take is choosing a date to have their first on-board meeting with the Home Address Coach. At this meeting they will discuss the final touches before beginning to solve the community’s housing crisis.

“At our final application meeting, everybody was excited and ready to get their hands dirty and get going,” Harrison said. “It’s a great thing that we were chosen and its 18 months long, so we are looking at a lot of hard work.”

Right now, they are looking to meet with the coach near the end of August. After this meeting occurs, the coaches will begin meeting Harrison and Merkel and the convening team monthly through November of 2015.

 
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