With low unemployment comes more homeless

Sioux Falls/Minnehaha county saw an almost 30% increase in homeless in one year;

In South Dakota, more than 1,100 people don’t have a place to call home, and over half of them live in Sioux Falls. Monday, the results of the one day homeless count in Sioux Falls were released.

“We had 618 homeless, and 218 of them were children,” Maria Krell, Executive Director of Good Shepard Center said.

In 2012, the homeless in Sioux Falls totaled 435 people.

Krell said, “It’s really a lack of affordable housing.”

Stacey Tieszen, who serves on the Sioux Falls Homeless Advisory Board, agrees. She said Sioux Falls did a study in 2010 that showed the city was 1,000 affordable housing units short, and we would need to build 250 units each year from there on to keep up with the growth of the city and the wages being paid.

“We’re not building that, we aren’t even remotely keeping pace with that, so we are behind the eight ball already,” Tieszen.

Tieszen said in order to afford a two bedroom apartment that costs around $800 a month, a person would have to make $14.61 an hour.

In Minnehaha County, for 44 percent of people surveyed in this count, this was their first time being homeless.

We have a combination of low unemployment, and the jobs that do exist are low paying, forcing many to have multiple jobs. Pile on the constant property tax increases, rate increases for utilities and the lack of affordable housing and what happens? People are forced to hit the streets. What’s even more scary is the amount of people who are ‘borderline’ homeless, and teetering on the edge.

There are things ‘Businesses’ can do;

– Pay workers more, but hire quality employees and train them well so you don’t have to have as many. It will balance out in the end.

There are things ‘Government’ can do;

– ONLY award TIF’s to affordable housing projects.

– REVOKE all other TIF’s that have nothing to do with affordable housing, and start charging them the proper property taxes.

– Reduce property taxes for individual property owners, especially those on fixed incomes.

– REVOKE the food tax, for everyone! Or on at least raw & fresh foods.

– Implement a corporate income tax

These constant tax breaks to those who can afford to pay the most in taxes has to end. We need to take the burden off those who can least afford it. Sadly, as Janoct Adja pointed out when running for mayor the first time, ‘even the homeless in our community have to pay taxes.’

This culture of working the poor to death without providing them affordable housing has to end. But the culture of handouts to the special interests at city hall has to end also to make this work. Once city hall has done everything it possibly can to make it more appealing for contractors to build enough affordable housing in our community, then, and only then, can we start talking about hotels on public golf courses, pickleball courts, and private indoor tennis courts for the mayor and his buddies.



#1 Tom H. on 12.18.13 at 4:01 pm

Here’s a better way to enhance affordable housing: remove density restrictions in the zoning code, which artificially reduce housing supply and thus drive up prices. If you want to build a triplex in a single-family neighborhood, why shouldn’t you be able to if market forces allow it? Oh, right, parking and traffic. Those fickle gods that we all must appease or else suffer the wrath of the planning department.

#2 Craig on 12.18.13 at 4:57 pm

Tom to some degree I see what you’re saying, but we have a lot of self-proclaimed zoning experts that would argue you can’t have multi-family in an area that wasn’t zoned for multi-family from day one. So that leaves a lot of neighborhoods out of the mix since they are zoned for single family residential.

Now look at the core of the city where you have some multi-family allowed. You end up with large victorian homes that were single family turned into three or four bedroom complexes. Some of them might be affordable, but is that the best we can do?

Surely there have to be better options. I look at some of the nice multi-use buildings that are high density, but I don’t see a single one which could be classified as affordable. Where does this leave the lower income families?

Meanwhile, the city does have some projects underway here and there to build small affordable housing units, but those projects are small scale and often take several years before an empty lot becomes a two unit building. I somehow doubt people can wait… so they are forced into higher rent complexes keeping them in poverty for even longer.

Wish I had the answer.

#3 Poly43 on 12.18.13 at 6:34 pm

Wish I had the answer.

The answer is right in front of you. I know how much you LOVE piling on Scott, but take the time to read what he posted when he started this thread. Forget your built in bias against a real working person. Just read what he posted.

#4 rufusx on 12.18.13 at 7:23 pm

Agree with three of the seven suggestions posted.

Ending practices/biases that are based in class will help.

Simply making war on the “other class” won’t bring about an end to the “class warfare” issue.

This can’t be about “revenge”.

#5 Craig on 12.19.13 at 1:21 pm

“Forget your built in bias against a real working person.”

lol… yea that’s it. I’m biased against working people.


Some of the suggestions made by DL have merit, but there are ramifications to each as well. It isn’t as simple as assuming if you did those things suddenly homelessness would disappear or even be reduced.

Take just one example in his list… a corporate income tax. Sure sounds like a great solution right? We can tax corporations and use that money to fund education, subsidies for affordable housing, perhaps even some afterschool programs.

The problem is, there are other states that don’t have corporate income taxes, and not only would this deter companies from relocating to SD, it would (in time) result in some leaving. So now you have the loss of jobs, loss of some good paying and stable jobs that include benefits, and the reduction in economic benefits that comes with it.

If it was really as simple as some make it sound, it would have already been done. It is like a game of chess – you have to think at least four or five moves ahead instead of just thinking about how you are going to attack the king.

#6 Tom H. on 12.19.13 at 1:45 pm

Of course, it’s a verifiable fact that high-tax states drive away corporations and jobs, right? That’s why Minnesota, with its corporate taxes, income taxes, and high sales taxes, is really hurting for jobs and has high unemployme…

Oh wait, Minnesota is home to 19 Fortune 500 companies, unemployment is 4.6% (national average = 7%), and has a highly-educated, highly-paid workforce. Funny.

#7 rufusx on 12.19.13 at 3:11 pm

Craig – no corporation worth having in the state will locate here due to a “no taxes” policy. That demonstrates a mentality that wants to do as little as possible – even NOTHING for the state except USE it for profit. Having been engaged in trying to recruit businesses to SD I can tell you – tax breaks are the LAST thing on their due diligence list.

#8 scott on 12.19.13 at 6:06 pm

That’s just crazy talk Ruf!

#9 pathloss on 12.19.13 at 8:51 pm

Whoa on the corporate income tax. Last time that came up I left for Denver & stayed 10 years. Been back 12 years now. The base here is property & sales tax. Give people good paying jobs & this is the formula. New York state now offers 10 years no corporate tax for companies relocating. If SD competes with them, we lose. Talk to Staggers. There’s a lot to be learned from history. For the dust bowl years everybody headed to CA. Now they’re coming here to flee taxes & infrastructure collapse. Most of New York state is now bought back by Indian casinos & there’s no property tax. They’re cackly intelligent but wall street crooks. Can’t we learn from them & keep our Midwest values.

#10 Craig on 12.26.13 at 8:38 am

Tom there is a reason that Minnesota is upset that the state of South Dakota put up billboards in their state touting the low cost of operating in South Dakota (including a lack of corporate income tax). It was even a key discussion point during the last governor’s race.

Like it or not, states compete against one another, and South Dakota has recruited several companies that previously called Minnesota home. It isn’t that Minnesota is suffering and their larger companies aren’t about to pack up and move, but over time the fact that their taxes have been on the rise and far outpacing the national average will have some effect.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not suggesting a corporate income tax is the lone reason why any company would relocate. I merely used that example because it was in DL’s original list of solutions to the homeless issue. Clearly when it comes to something like 3M there is no way they could locate to SD with or without low taxes… that is an entirely different matter.

Point is, when a company is looking to relocate they examine all the options. They consider geography, climate, available workforce, level of education of that workforce, and yes… taxes. They look at sales taxes, inventory taxes, property taxes, corporate income taxes and even individual income taxes. It isn’t as if South Dakota is going to attract people due to our vast cultural opportunities or our weather, so we need something else. As the story is told today, a big part of what South Dakota offers is a low tax climate, and anything that upsets that climate will have impacts upon how many companies relocate here or are formed here. That is just how it is.

Thankfully those who work in the office of economic development and those who we elect to represent us in Pierre are a bit more well informed on these types of issues, because if it were up to the common person with a passing interest on the issue I’m sure we would have a corporate income tax of 30%, and a personal income tax of 30% on anyone making more than $50k a year which would leave us with no large corporations and no highly paid employees to actually apply that tax to.

#11 Detroit Lewis on 12.26.13 at 10:54 am

Well, I wouldn’t be patting the backs of the ED office too much. The EB-5 fiasco and the workforce recruiting program have been complete disasters, and the worst part, they still defend some parts of the programs. While promoting business/employment in SD is a good thing for government to do, handing out millions to failed businesses and programs is not. I get very tired of hearing the same old folks in Pierre talk about no money for education (as our property taxes continue to rise) and refusing to lift the tax on food (while food banks are on the brink. Yet we have millions for these bullshit business bailout programs.

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