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Day two of David Pecker testimony wraps in NY Trump trial; Supreme Court hears arguments on Idaho's near-total abortion ban; ND sees a flurry of campaigning among Native candidates; and NH lags behind other states in restricting firearms at polling sites.

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The Senate moves forward with a foreign aid package. A North Carolina judge overturns an aged law penalizing released felons. And child protection groups call a Texas immigration policy traumatic for kids.

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Wyoming needs more educators who can teach kids trade skills, a proposal to open 40-thousand acres of an Ohio forest to fracking has environmental advocates alarmed and rural communities lure bicyclists with state-of-the-art bike trail systems.

SD poverty-fighting group: Affordable home builders need to step up

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Wednesday, January 3, 2024   

January is National Poverty in America Awareness Month and in South Dakota, agencies assisting low-income individuals said access to affordable housing remains a pressing issue.

The U.S. Census Bureau puts South Dakota's poverty rate at 12.5%.

Shawn Burke, executive director of Western South Dakota Community Action in the Rapid City area, which helps eligible families navigate a range of assistance programs, said not having enough affordable housing units in his region has left many in a bind. Burke pointed out the higher cost of buying a home has had a cascading effect on people.

"They're renting or continuing to rent and then, the rents have gone up, and so, those people that were able to afford a decent place to rent are now forced into the less desirable places," Burke explained. "Then those people who could only afford that, they're on the street."

Burke added while landlords have the right to do it, they are becoming more selective about accepting Section 8 housing vouchers. He suggested developers and planners need to prioritize building more units free of cost barriers.

Around Rapid City, he said there is new housing activity because of the Ellsworth Air Force Base expansion. But it is a mixed bag, because some mobile-home residents are being displaced.

Burke acknowledged a silver lining -- those homes are being resold and, through local partnerships, could be repurposed for people in need of a landing spot. During Poverty Awareness Month, he hopes the public realizes how the housing issue complicates the effort to escape poverty.

"If you're just trying to figure out where you're going to lay your head, to have a safe warm place for them to sleep in the wintertime, you're not thinking much about a job," Burke stressed. "It's not your primary concern."

Burke's office serves 14 counties in the western half of South Dakota. He said while other community action agencies are more geared to assist with direct housing aid, his team focuses on helping folks afford to stay in their home, including weatherization assistance to keep energy costs lower.


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