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Housing partnership to help Wagner, other SD communities grow

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- State and federal officials are starting a program to address housing needs in six South Dakota communities with fewer than 10,000 people.

SIOUX FALLS (AP) -- State and federal officials are starting a program to address housing needs in six South Dakota communities with fewer than 10,000 people.

The Home Address program is aimed at helping rural communities understand the problem and solve it, the media reported. Organizers will hire coaches to help them, and the communities also will have a local coordinator. Periodic training sessions also will be involved.

"Many rural communities across South Dakota are in a housing crisis," said Beth Davis, president of the Dakota Resources economic and leadership development agency. "When businesses cannot hire because there is no place for new employees to live, they can't grow, and economic development in the entire region suffers."

The federal government is covering half of the $450,000 start-up costs, with a coalition of South Dakota agencies paying the rest. Participating towns will spend up to $10,000 in matching money.

The program is being coordinated through the Rural Learning Center in Howard. The South Dakota Housing Authority in Pierre will host a training session in mid-September, and the program will start Oct. 1 and run until spring 2014.

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The six communities in the program will include Wagner, a city of 1,600 people in southeast South Dakota that has retail trade, hospitals and tourist traffic from hunting, camping and fishing. The other five will be selected this summer.

Project coordinator Lindsey Karlson said there is a changing culture in which commuting is more common and young adults are finding new reasons to consider rural living.

"There's been a shift in people's priorities," she said. "People are choosing where to live and then figure out what to do for work."

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