Inmate-built houses OK’d for larger towns

Inmate-built houses OK'd for larger towns Inmate-built houses for senior citizens and persons with disabilities will now be available throughout South Dakota, according to Governor Bill Janklow.

Janklow announced that the homes will be available to applicants from communities of 5,000 or more people. He said he is lifting the restriction he previously placed on the program, which had limited the homes to communities of less than 5,000 population and rural areas.

The announcement follows a private meeting with leaders of the South Dakota Home Builders Association on Feb. 3, where Janklow and the group agreed to work together in placing the 786-square-feet homes in the larger communities.

The governor had limited the houses to smaller communities in the past because some home builders expressed concern about inmate-built houses competing in the construction market. The home builders group last week agreed with Janklow that the concern isn't significant, at least not in the current housing market.

"I told them I was tired of saying no to elderly people who write me from Yankton and Huron and Mitchell and Spearfish asking why I can't help them get a low-cost, energy-efficient home like their counterparts in the rural areas of the state. Their response was, 'What can we do to help you?' " Janklow said.

Janklow told the home builders group that affordable housing is one of the three biggest issues he deals with in South Dakota. He said it can't stand in the way of continued development of communities.

Under the agreement they will work out, the home builders will offer to act as general contractors to manage the home installation process after the houses are built at Springfield state prison and delivered to the community. Janklow said their help will accelerate the process.

"We have houses done, sold and sitting in inventory because people haven't been able to get a contractor to install the foundation or they don't know how to make the arrangements for a contractor," Janklow said.

The one- or two-bedroom homes are available from the South Dakota Housing Development Authority for $22,000, which includes delivery to any location in the state. The homes are built with 2×6 exterior wall construction, R-19 wall insulation and R-38 roof insulation. They include oak cabinets and are wheelchair accessible.

Model homes currently can be seen in Winner and Sioux Falls. Persons seeking more information about the program or seeking to purchase a home can contact the South Dakota Housing Development Authority at 1-800-540-4241. Beginning in April, models will be available in Aberdeen, Watertown, Yankton and Black Hills areas.

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