The Facts on Housing

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Rural workforce, multi-family and rehab housing have been a silent crisis for at least three decades. Part of the mission of On Hand Development Corporation (OHDC) is to make sure that Miller has affordable housing. Housing is a big part of economic development.  Our communities not only need jobs for young families but also need adequate and affordable housing to attract them to our area. 

The facts are very clear when it comes to new build. According to Miles McGinnis; Economic Development Director from Central City, NE at a 2021 housing gathering I attended, a town of 1300 people needs 3.9 new houses every year to sustain its population. In the City limits of Miller in the past two years, one home has been built new. (Source: City of Miller finance office for building permits) At this current time, no developer is going to come to save us from this housing crisis because they are too busy building housing in higher population centers. Clearly no developers are coming in because in the past two years, only 1 home has been built in the city limits of Miller.

The facts are very clear when it comes to the age of homes. The median age of owner-occupied homes in the United States is 39 years; the median age of a home in South Dakota is 43 years; in Hand County the median age of a home is 57 years (source:

The facts are very clear when it comes to family size. The average family size has been decreasing for decades. That decline has translated into a 3% reduction in the number of people living in each house. With fewer people living in each house, our community needs more new homes just to house the same level of population.  

The facts are clear when it comes to economic development in South Dakota taking a priority in housing. MANY rural economic development offices (EDO) have taken on housing as a priority including Chamberlain, Centerville, Redfield (Spink County), Faulkton, Frederick, Bowdle, Wall, Freeman, Clear Lake, Milbank, Herried, Sturgis, Deadwood, Custer, Hot Springs, Platte, Viborg, and more. Some of these EDOs are building houses, developing rental multi-family units, or rehabbing homes; and others are facilitating the process to make sure housing needs are being met. OHDC has bought and sold two governor’s homes in the past 4 years. We have assisted several others with the process. And now, we are in the very early stages of developing a potential new housing development with 12 potential new homes to our community. We are excited for people to have the opportunity to build the home of their dreams but also to have some other homes open up in our community.

The facts are very clear about homes for sale in our area. As I write this article on October 21, 2022, there are nine homes for sale in the City Limits of Miller. These nine homes average price for sale listing is $162,444 and the average year built is 1936.

Our entire community has seen the need for additional housing. We have met with the hospital, the school, the larger business employers, and ag businesses and they are all saying the same thing, “We need more housing to attract and retain employees. Younger families want newer homes that don’t need to be updated and remodeled and if they can’t find it here, they won’t come here.”

OHDC has the knowledge, the connections, the resources, and the tools needed to create more affordable housing in our area. We also now have the land to develop 12 additional housing units in our community. And if a developer wants to come and develop those lots, we would LOVE to work with them. We care about housing and the needs of our community and we take the direction and the plans from the people in our community.

OHDC will continue to make the journey towards finding solutions to the housing needs and obstacles in the Hand County area. Perhaps many of you will join in the conversation regarding housing so that more of Hand County can have their very own home and make a dream of owning a home a reality. Housing IS economic development and the facts are very clear that we are needing more of it. We need to focus our efforts on sustaining our community to make sure it is thriving for the next generation.

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