SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Homeowners that meet the income guidelines could get up to a $5,000 grant for safety and general repairs under a city of Sioux Falls program.

The city will use $1.4 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) money to pay for repair or replacement of items such as faulty plumbing and heating systems, for electrical work and windows. The grant can also be used for painting and handicapped accessibility and other projects.

“The need existed before (COVID) but now we have the opportunity because of ARPA to offer these grants,” Kevin Smith, the city’s assistant director of planning and development services, said.

Homeowners across the city can apply but Smith said many homeowners in the city’s central neighborhoods may be eligible.

Council member Greg Neitzert said although the program is for homes across the city, “…my hope would that it would be primarily geared towards home in the core that need TLC and revitalization dollars, but again if someone meets the criteria, and the home needs improvement, anywhere is acceptable.”

“That’s where housing is probably the most affordable, especially in the core area of the city, is where we see properties in the greatest need,” Smith said.

City of Sioux Falls graphic

The income guidelines are based on the April 2022 guidelines from Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

The maximum household incomes are: $37,538 for a one-person household, $42,900 for a two-person household, $48,263 for a three-person household, $53,625 for a four-person household, $57,915 for a five-person household, $62,205 for a six-person household, $66,205 for a seven-person household and $70,785 for an eight-person household.

The applicant must meet other guidelines including up-to-date mortgage payments, taxes and insurance and others.

Why does the city want to help make repairs?

The city can issue code violations for houses that are in disrepair but Smith said it’s better to prevent the need for a citation.

“We don’t want to see properties fall into disrepair and have them be in code violation,” Smith said.

Just as public safety and fire departments work on crime prevention and fire prevention, the city wants to work on code violation prevention, Smith said.

If a homeowner isn’t financially able to make a repair then, they may also be unlikely to pay a citation, Smith said.

The grant program is also part of neighborhood revitalization, Smith said. It can help to keep people living in their own homes, he said.

Also, houses that aren’t repaired could eventually be demolished which is a loss to the housing stock and an expense.

The city needs to help preserve housing stock, especially as it continues to grow and the demand for housing increases, he said.

City will help homeowners with the process

Smith said homeowners will be helped during the application process.

City of Sioux Falls graphic

The program requires a homeowner to obtain two quotes for any general or safety repair work The city can also help them obtain quotes.

“We want to make this as easy of a process as possible,” Smith said.

Is $1.4 million enough?

“(The) $1.4 million is probably a small fraction of the actual need,” Neitzert said.

Both Smith and Neitzert said establishing a sustained grant program similar to the ARPAXXX-funded program is a possibility.

“I think there is interest in doing that beyond ARPA dollars…,” Smith said.

“It’s nice to have one time dollars from COVID relief, but it is not sustainable or ongoing,” Neitzert said. “We have to identify sustainable and perpetual funding sources.  We need to be smart and targeted.  It needs to help those who have the need, not just wants. “

Neitzert suggested a portion of building permit fees or other ongoing revenue could be sources to fund a long-term grant program. “We have an interest in making sure homes do not fall into disrepair, and a dedicated slice of city funding is appropriate,” Neitzert said.

“There is potential to use general fund dollars and also use some housing program (money),” Smith said.

Sidewalks would also be eligible

In about two weeks the city will send 2,600 letters to property owners about the need to repair sidewalks, Smith said.

The grant program can be used for sidewalk repairs. Applicants can qualify in two ways: The household income must be lower than 65% of the median family income guideline or a homeowner, spouse or dependent is qualified for one of several eligible programs such as the Children’s Health Insurance Program, Supplemental Security Income, Head Start and others.

What if a repair doesn’t need $5,000 or needs more?

The grant program is for grants of up to $5,000.

If a homeowner’s projects total $1,000, as an example, they could possibly apply again if there is another need, but that would require money to be available and it would need to be before the Dec. 31, 2024, deadline, Smith said.

If a project(s) cost more than $5,000 it is possible the homeowner could access a 0% interest loan from a city administered project, Smith said.

For more information about the program, homeowners can contact the city at 605-367-8180 or visit with city officials from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday at the City Center at 231 N. Dakota Ave. Information is also available online at siouxfalls.org/housing-grant

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