Community meeting planned to address De Smet housing shortage

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

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The De Smet Development Corporation has scheduled a community meeting starting at 3 p.m. Nov. 16 at De Smet High School. The event will last until 6 p.m. and a free soup supper will be available to all participants.


One of the goals of the meeting is to provide a forum forcommunitywide discussion of a recent housing needs survey conducted by the city. Organizers Rita Anderson and Angie Baszler hope that 100 heads will be better than one (or two) in attempting to come up with ideas to solve 

the affordable housing shortage in De Smet.


Several “coaches” will also be on hand from an organization called Home Address to help guide the meeting and answer questions. Home Address is a consulting group hired by De Smet Development Corporation that works with target communities to discover solutions to the kind of housing shortages De Smet is currently experiencing.


Anderson said when she approaches new main street-style businesses to come to town, their first question is always, “How many people are there in De Smet?” When she replies “about 1,100, but we’re growing fast; we’ve got a lot of things going on in De Smet,” their response is always to ask again, “How many people are there in De Smet?”


New jobs are being created here, but many of the people working them don’t live in De Smet. And the problem seems poised to grow worse before it gets better.


Several new businesses have recently opened in De Smet, including, most recently, American Engineered Products and Sheyenne Dakota. They are finding they need to look outside of town for available workers.


Many of the more veteran business leaders have been saying for years that the housing situation in De Smet has grown urgent. The development corporation has made several abortive attempts to lure housing developers into De Smet to start resolving the issue.


But, as Baszler said, “Every time we start down a path, it seems like there is a roadblock.”


Finally, the development corporation decided to hire Ted Haeder from the Association of Local Governments in Watertown to conduct a housing needs survey in early 2014. The objective of the survey was to try to get a better handle on the real number of people interested in moving to De Smet and what kind of housing they are looking for.


David Tritle


The De Smet News

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