Happy Wednesday! Megan here.
Correction: An earlier version of this post misstated the status of the vote on the new name for the Sixth Street Bridge. That decision was deferred two weeks.
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Weather check: Weirdly warm (is anyone else over here like, where's the snow?)
This week, we'll get an updated look at housing in Sioux Falls and where the most urgent needs are. I've also got a "simplified" look at Gov. Kristi Noem's budget address – with a focus on what it means for Sioux Fallsians. Plus, catch up on the latest city news via Super Simplified Stories, and watch for more on the local gift guide you all helped me create later in the week!
And now, news:
What's the greatest need for housing in Sioux Falls?
Simplified: Sioux Falls doesn't have enough studio and one-bedroom apartments for its poorest residents, according to research released Tuesday from Augustana University.
Why it matters
- The data released Tuesday provides an update to a 2021 citywide housing study, which looked at the extent of the need for affordable housing in Sioux Falls.
- The goal with this update was to get a more specific look at who exactly is in the lowest income bracket, and what type of housing do they need, according to Suzanne Smith, associate vice president of enterprise data analytics and Augustana Research Institute.
- It's no surprise, Smith noted, that 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. And this study shows the greatest need among those folks is for studio or one-bedroom housing.
"The biggest takeaway for me is actually optimism," Smith told Sioux Falls Simplified. "In a way, it's easier to build some smaller units that are super affordable, so knowing that we don't necessarily need to build a bunch of three-bedroom apartments that are going to rent for $600 per month – it's promising news."
How Gov. Noem's budget proposal could affect Sioux Falls
Simplified: Gov. Kristi Noem stood before lawmakers and the public on Tuesday to deliver her annual budget address, proposing a more than 7.2 billion in spending for the next fiscal year. Many pieces of the budget have statewide impact, as well as a couple that hit closer to home. Here's a closer look.
Why it matters
- First off, it's important to remember that this is just a starting point for the state budget. Noem has her wish list laid out, but it'll ultimately be up to lawmakers during the 2024 session to determine how to dole out state money.
- This budget is also significant because it's the last year the state will have to spend its federal pandemic relief funds. Noem is proposing spending most of the remaining $105 million of it on infrastructure, specifically state water and wastewater projects.
- A few items that – if passed – would have a big impact on Sioux Falls, specifically are additional support for higher education/workforce, funding to fully pay for a men's prison in Lincoln county and a proposed 4% increase to salaries for teachers, state employees, nursing homes, community service providers and developmental disability providers.
"I am not proposing conservative spending because our economy is weak," Noem said. "I am proposing conservative spending because we are strong – and I want South Dakotans to continue to thrive for generations to come."
Tell me more about what's in the budget – and what's not
Super Simplified Stories
- Lock your car. The Sioux Falls Police Department is spending $50,000 on a community awareness campaign to help remind people to "Lock it and pocket," i.e., lock your car and bring your keys with you. The city has seen a marked increase in car thefts over the last couple of years, up from about 750 in 2019 to nearly 1,500 so far this year. Eighty percent of those stolen cars had the keys in them. You'll start seeing ads with that slogan online and can learn more here.
- New partnership centers on behavioral health. Southeast Technical College is launching a new Behavioral and Mental Health Technician associate degree program this spring in partnership with Avera Health. The hope is the new program will help get more people into what's a very high-demand position. There's also scholarship funding available for up to $10,000 per year from the Seed for Success Foundation. Learn more here.
- What's new with the Big Sioux? The annual Big Sioux River and Sustainability Summit will take place Thursday at the Sioux Falls Convention Center. Topics include pollinator plots, local food, urban forestry and how cleaning up the river could impact economic development. Find a full schedule on this free event here.
More Simplified Stories
- Transit agreement approved. The Sioux Falls City Council gave final approval to a contract with Via, who was announced in September as the new transit provider. I dug into what this all means here, but the news today is that the I's are dotted and the T's are crossed formally now.
- Neighborhood grant applications open. The city has more money to spend on neighborhood grants this year after a $25,000 increase from the City Council – that's $75,000 in total for neighborhood projects. So, get together with the folks in your neighborhood and apply for a piece of that pie by Feb. 2. Find examples of past projects and the application forms here.
- Sixth Street bridge close to a new name. The Sioux Falls City Council on Tuesday night deferred a resolution to call the Sixth Street bridge the "Unity Bridge." That vote will now come in two weeks.
More Simplified Stories
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