Housing study presentation set for Sunday

Posted March 5, 2013 at 5:16 pm

It probably comes as no surprise to most in the community that the lack of available housing is a concern. Miller, like many other communities, has a housing crunch. People find apartment and home rentals are few and far between, as well as affordable homes on the market for purchase.

That lack of housing often has far-reaching effects…from discouraging potential employees and businesses to come to the area, to the economic impact when people spend their money elsewhere.

Therefore, On Hand Development Corporation is calling a community meeting scheduled for Sunday, March 10 at 3 p.m. at the MHS Theatre. It’s for anyone and everyone who is interested, and who has concerns about housing availability in Miller and the surrounding area.

The event is termed the “Miller Housing Study Presentation and Strategy Session.” Following the presentation, a free meal will be served in the MHS commons to all strategy session participants.

“We want input from interested citizens,” said LaDonna Wharton, On Hand director. “We’re hoping people will be excited about helping find solutions.”

Amy Howard, office assistant, says the housing shortage didn’t come about overnight. “The local housing committee started talking about the shortage and what to do about it in 2009, but couldn’t seem to get traction and move ahead.”

Howard says last year the local committee looked at a program dealing with housing shortages through the Rural Learning Center.

“They needed to know what steps to follow,” Howard notes.

The program was revamped, and a pilot program called “Home Address” was developed.

The program employs independent consultants paid through grant funds.

“Different communities applied for the program, and they made us work for a spot,” Wharton said. Eight communities from across South Dakota went to Pierre for initial training. Four were selected for the program.

“Miller, Martin, Wagner and Faulkton were selected,” Wharton explained. Miller received a “primary coach” named Mike Knutson who began the assessment of the housing in the area. Another coach, Joe Bartman, helped out.

The next step was a study by Community Partners Research, Inc. from St. Elmo, Minn. Steven Griesert, president of that company, conducted the survey in Miller and the surrounding area. “He interviewed a lot of rental property owners, as well as other people, and spent two days looking around town, getting a feel of the community,” Howard explained.

The end result was an 80-page analysis.

“Steve will be giving the presentation Sunday,” Wharton said. “He will present 17 recommendations. And from there, we hope to determine what the priorities are.”

The analysis encompasses not only Miller, but also the three-mile radius around the city, including St. Lawrence, and also a general look at Hand County.

“We know housing is a problem. We’re looking for community input. If you’re concerned with housing, come to the meeting, listen, and share your thoughts.

If you have a question about the housing meeting, or a question about any aspect of On Hand Development Corporation, call the office at 853-3098.