Housing Heros Story Series 2 of 4 | Centerville
Flexibility and creativity are key components to rural housing development, where a lack of affordable housing can often hamper economic development efforts and deter new families from moving to town.
Centerville has been striving to meet the needs of families by providing housing solutions through the Centerville Economic Development Corporation.
“The first project that comes to mind started before I came on board,” explains Jared Hybertson, Economic Development Coordinator in Centerville. “The Economic Development Corporation identified a young man living in poor conditions. This young man was about to have a family, so they worked to get them into a Governor’s House. The Governor’s House was moved onto the lot of a home that had previously been condemned and torn down.”
In a creative twist, the dilapidated home being lived in by the young man was not torn down. Instead, the Economic Development Corporation received funding through the South Dakota Housing Authority that allowed to partner with a couple of local contractors and rehab the home. This created affordable housing for a second young family, who purchased the home for around $85,000.
“Buying and saving a property is generally preferable to condemning a property,” says Jared. “If you can acquire the property, you can control it. Then if you can rehab the property, you can keep the price affordable. We’re not always looking to clear a lot to build something new, but to re-utilize what we can when possible.”
Jared explains that while redevelopment can be challenging, it’s a great way to utilize fill lots that have infrastructure nearby. He also says that while the Centerville Economic Development Corporation doesn’t prefer to build spec homes, they build because no one else is doing it.
“It’s becoming more common in rural communities. If people are considering a move here, we don’t want to discourage them because of a lack of desirable housing,” he says.
A few years ago, a condemned home damaged by fire was bought and cleared to make way for a spec home on an in-fill lot. This home was sold before the contractors broke ground and is still currently under construction. While this isn’t the norm, Jared feels that new homes bring new opportunities.
“Right now we are working with an elderly couple that wanted to move closer to their children and grandchildren who had just moved to Centerville,” he says. “We bought another condemned home and the property next to it and were planning to clear the land and make way for a new housing opportunity. The elderly couple is interested in a pre-built home from Superior Homes for the lot. We are going to purchase the home and move it in. Then we will sell that house to this family, which will help Centerville with comparables—something that can be hard to come by in a rural community.”
Jared said he took the advice about boosting his local comparables from Trevor Cramer in Faulkton, who he met through Dakota Resources and the Learning Network.
“The couple still has to line up financing, but they don’t have to clear the lot or move the house,” he explains. “It’s basically a win-win for everyone.”
Jared says there is never one specific way to work with redeveloping a property, and it’s important to be open to options and to be willing to work with people. “Keep in mind there are funding resources available through places like the South Dakota Housing Authority and through HUD’s Neighborhood Stabilization Program,” he says. “Getting people into new homes is the fun part of the dilapidated housing process. You get to turn a negative into a positive.”