Editor's note: These stories are the next installment in a multi-part series on the 2024 city and school board election. Find all the coverage that's been done so far right here.

Simplified: Sioux Falls Simplified sat down with each of the eight candidates hoping to have a seat on the City Council. Candidates were all asked (approximately) the same set of questions. Here's what they had to say about addressing housing needs within the city.

Why it matters

  • According to recent data from Augustana, the greatest housing shortage is among those who make 30% or less the area median income (AMI) – which is $17,350 for an individual and $26,500 for a family of four. The city is also working on addressing those needs.

Another quick note: Candidates are listed in the order in which they're shared on the city election website. Answers are edited for length and clarity.

How will you approach conversations about affordable housing, and what role do you see the council playing in that ongoing conversation?

Jennifer Sigette, Northwest District*: "I haven't had a ton of meetings with the housing people other than I know there's a need.

  • It's not necessarily the really, really low income people – that's a whole other beast – but it's young professionals who want to get an apartment and can't afford an apartment.
  • I will be very supportive of trying to build more affordable housing, and I do think the city plays a role in that when it comes to zoning, working with developers, etc."

Miranda Basye, Northeast District:: "I think a big part of it is education and vocabulary – when you talk about affordable housing, workforce housing, low-income housing.

  • If there's a housing problem, housing is cyclical. People move out, upgrade ... if we are pinched in any piece of it I think it affects the whole thing."
  • Basye noted she's also had conversations with folks in the housing industry as well as looked at zoning codes. She said the city should consider more density as well as creative solutions.

Neil Jeske, Northeast District: "Housing is obviously an issue that affects everybody. ... I would like to help people own property instead of being permanent renters. I would like to encourage anyone, really, that they are capable of buying their own home. There are programs where you can only put down 3.5% and you can buy a house."

  • Jeske said for the existing housing in the city, he'd like to ensure that it's not "crime-riddled."
  • He also said he'd like to find a way for people to come together to make offers to purchase vacant housing.

David Zokaites, Northeast District: "Zoning – that's City Council's purview. We can change zoning – talk to some developers, get some feedback.

  • There's no exaggeration when I say that's a powerful, powerful process because zoning ... if you change zoning, you can solve affordable housing. And that might be all there is to it."

Ryan Spellerberg, Southwest District*: "I actually have met with some of the bigger builders in town and just asked that question: How do you drive down costs on housing?"

  • Spellerberg noted that it's not building codes, but rather zoning regulations that may need to change to make building more affordable. He also has worked with groups like Affordable Housing Solutions.
  • "Labor is an issue here when it comes to affordability," he added.

Jordan Deffenbaugh, At-Large: "The City Council is in the business of condition creation. What they can do is create the conditions where the likelihood of success (for affordable housing projects) is higher."

  • Deffenbaugh also noted the "missing middle" of housing options like duplexes, triplexes, etc. that provide more affordable choices.
  • He said he'd also like to see changes to zoning ordinances that allow more flexibility to create more housing density.

Richard Thomason, At-Large: "Everyone needs a roof over their head."

  • Thomason said there's affordable housing on the outskirts of town, but he'd like to see more in the core. He also noted he'd like to see all kinds of housing – single family, multifamily, rehabilitation of existing buildings to create more housing – all while prioritizing what's most needed.

Allison Renville, At-Large: "If a grandmother has lived in a house for the last 50-60 years, and she's looking at losing it because somebody wants to expand their store because they need parking lot space, how are we going to sustain that family's existence in the city if we're not stepping in and saying, hey this family has lived here?

  • Renville said she'd like to see the city show more value to homeowners because "owning a home isn't an easy task."
  • She added that she'd also like to see landlords held accountable for the upkeep of their buildings or apartments and incentivizing any needed renovation and upkeep.

*Sigette and Spellerberg will not be listed on the ballot because their races are uncontested. Since they'll be representing essentially half the city, Sioux Falls Simplified still included them here so voters know their public officials.

Want to learn more about the candidates?

See who they are and why they're running here:

Meet the people who want to represent you on the Sioux Falls City Council
Four of the eight Sioux Falls City Council seats will have new faces after the April 9 election. Here’s an easy look at who’s running to represent you.

And then get their thoughts on childcare:

What City Council candidates have to say about childcare
It costs more in one year to send your kid to a childcare center in Sioux Falls than it would to send them to a South Dakota state university.

And then see what they have to say about the Riverline District:

What candidates have to say about the 2050 vision for the Riverline District
Mayor Paul TenHaken last month laid out a 2050 vision for the Riverline District that includes a new downtown convention center.

And then keep checking back for more topics in the coming weeks leading up to the April 9 election.