It’s staggering. Over 1,100 school-age children in Sioux Falls experience homelessness during the school year. Sioux Falls Thrive’s Housing Action Team, or HAT, is charged with cutting that number in half.
Since its inception, HAT has promoted a series of innovations that have expanded housing opportunities and improved access to housing information.
Members of the 15-person team represent all sectors of the community and include volunteer leaders, property owners, and representatives from government, nonprofit, and faith-based entities. One-third of the team turns over every two years, said Candy Hanson, Thrive’s Community Collaboration Director.
Folks with the will to tackle big picture, systemic housing issues can apply for membership no later than April 26, 2021. Click here to apply.
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“HAT’s job is going to get a lot bigger. Housing isn’t a just a local problem,” Hanson said, “The lack of affordable housing has hit a national tipping point.”
This past year, The National Low Income Housing Coalition reported that there wasn’t a single county in the U.S. where a full-time minimum wage worker could afford to rent a two-bedroom home at market rates. Job and income loss from the coronavirus pandemic prompted the CDC to enact an eviction moratorium and Congress to send millions of dollars to South Dakota for emergency housing relief under the CARES Act and the American Rescue Plan Act. And the administration’s proposed Infrastructure Plan includes a $213 billion allocation to housing.
When the rubber hits the road, connecting families to permanent, affordable housing rests on the backs of our financial institutions and most importantly, our local nonprofits, faith-based groups, and government entities. With the sea change in housing support, our housing team has its collaborative work cut out for it.
Focusing on key collaborations
Volunteers selected to join Thrive’s Housing Action Team this year will be working on two big collaborations — HAT’s partnership with East River Legal Services’ eviction prevention pilot and a Housing Screening Referral Tool. They’ll also be supporting the city’s development of a Housing Clinic and paving a new outreach pathway for families at risk of homelessness.
At a recent HAT meeting, Ekdom pointed out that Sioux Falls is fortunate to have many agencies prepared to help families in need. “We have the Helpline Center for resource information, after that, it’s our job to collaborate and remove obstacles for families who need help.”
Applications for HAT membership are due no later than April 26, 2021.