June 13, 2024

Bill correcting infrastructure program oversight comes after much of funds spent

A bill is moving through the legislature aiming to give tribal entities access to a pot of housing infrastructure dollars.

However, several rounds of funding from the program have already been dedicated — leaving a smaller slice of the pie for tribes to apply for, particularly when it comes to grant dollars.

House Bill 1041 looks to correct an oversight in last years’ $200 million Housing Infrastructure Finance Program that excluded tribal entities from qualifying for assistance. That money is distributed through a combination of grants and loans.

Of the concerns lawmakers voiced in debate, the need for housing development in tribal settings was top of the list. Prime sponsor Rep. Tyler Tordsen said he wants to see tribes eligible for grant funding.

“There’s been a lot of interest in the grant side of this program, hopefully this will be an opportunity for tribes to go after that piece, but if nothing else too just making sure we’re not missing another construction season, get this bill to the governor, get her signature on it,” Tordsen said.

Since being enacted, that program has awarded $106.6 million for 67 projects across the state. But nearly the entire pool grant dollars have already been committed. That means tribal governments and nonprofits will likely only be able qualify for loans under the bill as written.

Chas Olson, executive director of the South Dakota Housing Authority, said while the grant dollars are effectively gone, there is still money in the pool.

“All the grant money is fully subscribed and oversubscribed, but then there’s about another $87 million left of loan funds that haven’t even been applied for yet,” Olsen said. “So, grant money has gone out the door pretty quickly, but the loan money has been a little slow to be applied for.”

Olson said the program is dedicated to developing infrastructure.

“No sticks and bricks, so to speak,” Olson said. “This is all going to be your water infrastructure and even roads, streetlights, things like that. What our outcomes will be: build-ready single-family lots and build-ready multi-family lots to produce lots that can support multi-family units like apartment complexes.”

The bill passed both chambers. It now just needs the governor’s signature to become law.

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