- Associated Press - Saturday, March 18, 2017

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (AP) - Homes in Sioux Falls’ oldest neighborhoods are getting a face-lift thanks to growing commitments from City Hall and a local nonprofit builder.

The Argus Leader (https://argusne.ws/2nJGgRC ) reports Affordable Housing Solutions plans to rebuild 10 homes this construction season, many of which are located along the blocks surrounding downtown.

It’s a more ambitious target than ever before for the organization, which takes problem properties and injects them with new life, selling a newly built house to low-income families.

“You’re able to leverage both neighborhood revitalization dollars and affordable housing dollars,” said Wayne Wagner, housing development director for Affordable Housing Solutions.

The nonprofit revitalized three homes when Wagner first started in 2014 and has since steadily increased its yearly workload. This summer, Affordable Housing Solutions is tearing down old homes and putting in newly built replacements in the Pettigrew Heights, Cathedral and Whittier neighborhoods.

The group acts as a good neighbor, and plays an important role in addressing some of the blighted properties in the area, said Lura Roti, who lives in the Cathedral Historic District.

“This is a great place to live,” Roti said. “If there’s a home that’s condemned and it’s beyond reproach, that’s when I feel Wayne’s organization fills a void.” Roti is a freelancer for Argus Leader Media.

The homes AHS revitalizes are sold to families earning less than 80 percent of the median income. Buyers can often be dual-income, with parents who are busy working and trying to provide for their children. Sometimes, it’s still a struggle for them to afford an appropriate amount of space, Wagner said.

“We really see single family houses being workforce housing,” Wagner said.

By revitalizing homes in the core, Wagner believes his group is setting an example for other private builders, who might be inspired to help spruce up the same neighborhoods.

It happened last year after his organization rebuilt two homes near the intersection of 16th Street and Spring Avenue. A private developer came in later and fixed up four houses on the same block, Wagner said.

“That’s when you have momentum,” Wagner said.

John Koch builds and revitalizes properties in some of the same neighborhoods as Affordable Housing Solutions. The owner of John Koch Construction does his best to honor the designs of the original building, fixing them up in a way that fits the neighborhood.

Revitalization is helping to draw more interest from young people who want to be close to the center of the city but don’t have the income to pay rising rent costs downtown, Koch said.

“Living right downtown, say on Phillips Avenue, isn’t necessarily affordable for a lot of people,” Koch said. “I’m all of a sudden seeing a demand close, real close walking distance to downtown.”

For each project, AHS does its best to make sure a newly rebuilt home fits in with the look and feel of the block, giving the neighborhood’s newest addition as much curb appeal as possible, Wagner said.

“I really like the fact that they look around at the existing architecture and they do their best to build a home that complements it,” Roti said.

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Information from: Argus Leader, https://www.argusleader.com

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