Black Hills Knowledge Netowork

In response to both local and national affordable housing concerns, the John T. Vucurevich Foundation commissioned the Black Hills Knowledge Network to conduct a Rapid City Housing Affordability Study to help the Rapid City community understand the local need for affordable housing. Authored by Dr. Jared McEntaffer, Callie Tysdal, and Rochelle Zens, the Rapid City Housing Affordability Study was released to the public on June 25, 2018.

According to a report released today by the Black Hills Knowledge Network, affordable housing is in short supply for low-income households in the Rapid City Market area.

The study found that there is an estimated market shortage of up to 3,490 owner-occupied housing units costing $899 or less per month. The report also found a need for up to 1,459 more rental units with gross rents of $500 or less per month.

Between 2010 and 2016 real median household incomes (i.e. inflation adjusted incomes) in the study area fell by 3.2%, while real median home prices, in contrast, rose by 11.5%. The simultaneous divergence of incomes and housing costs led to increased housing burden families with lower incomes.  As evidence of this, the study found that an estimated 4,417 households, or 12% of area households, were forced to pay more than 50% of their incomes towards housing in 2016.

For more information, scroll to the bottom of this page and download a copy of the entire report. You may also contact Dr. Jared McEntaffer with any further questions or for an interview by email or at 605-716-0045.


This study adopted a broad definition for affordable housing based on the 30-percent rule, which advises that a family or household should not pay more than 30% of its annual income for housing. The demand for housing was estimated by creating an income profile for the Rapid City market area by stratifying households across several distinct income brackets. The study then applied the 30-percent rule to determine the maximum monthly housing costs that could be considered affordable to households and families in each income bracket. The supply of affordable housing at each income level was estimated using data obtained from local tax records and the US Census Bureau.

Market gaps in affordable housing were estimated by subtracting housing demand estimates from housing supply estimates at each price point. This method identified market gaps, or mismatch, between household incomes and housing costs.

Market Area Income and Demographic Pressures

The most noteworthy trends in the market area were those related to household incomes. Real median household incomes (i.e. inflation-adjusted) in the Rapid City market area declined by 3.2% in recent years, falling from $50,380 in 2010 to $48,784 in 2016. In contrast, real median household incomes across South Dakota grew by 7.8% over the same period — rising from a comparable $50,513 in 2010 to $54,467 in 2016. Real median incomes at the national level similarly rose by 4.6% from $55,071 in 2010 to $57,617 in 2016.

A thorough analysis of local demographic patterns highlighted three trends that have depressed real household incomes in the market area: (1) the local population is aging out of the workforce, (2) the composition of households is changing with 1-person and 1-earner households becoming more prevalent, and (3) the local labor market is dominated by low-wage tourism related occupations (e.g. food service, retail sales, and accommodation) that have experienced slower than average wage growth since the 2007-2009 recession.

Owner-Occupied Market Gaps

The mismatch between area incomes and housing costs in the owner-occupied market was clear and is demonstrated by an estimated market gap of 3,490 housing units costing $899 or less per month.

The results of mismatched incomes and housing costs in 2016 were large disparities in housing burden across the income distribution. An estimated 52% of households earning less than $20,000 per year paid more than half of their annual incomes towards housing in 2016. The report also found 75% of households making less than $20,000 annually paid more than 30% of their incomes toward housing, and an estimated 56.5% of households with annual incomes below $35,000 were similarly cost burdened. In contrast, 85% of these households earning more than $100,000 paid less than 20% of their incomes towards housing.

Rental Market Gaps

The rental market exhibited a similar pattern of shortages and surpluses as the owner-occupied market, and displayed a pronounced shortage of an estimated 1,459 units with gross rents of $500 or less per month. The true shortage of units with gross rents under $500 per month is likely larger than reported, however, because households receiving Section 8 vouchers tend to under-report their total rental costs due to the rent subsidy. By implication, the supply of lower-cost rental units may be overestimated, causing the real-world shortage of lower-cost units to be larger than estimated.

As in the owner-occupied market, the pattern of shortages and surpluses in the rental market indicated that low-income households experienced higher rates of housing burden than high-income households. Approximately 57% of renting households earning less than $20,000 per year paid 50% or more of their incomes towards housing. In contrast, an estimated 87% of households earning $75,000 or more per year paid less than 20% of their incomes to housing.

United Way of the Black Hills held their annual Day of Caring fundraiser on Thursday, September 7th. Approximately 1,000 volunteers contributed to 79 different projects, reports the Rapid City Journal and United Way of the Black Hills Executive Director Jamie Toennies. The volunteers assisted Rapid City businesses and residents with yard work and landscaping projects.

While the number of volunteers was down from 2016, the 92 teams of volunteers are estimated to have had $80,000 worth of positive economic impact.

United Way of the Black Hills has three more Day of Caring events scheduled for other Black Hills communities through the month of September in Custer, Spearfish, and Sturgis. The fundraising goal for the 2017 year for the organization is about $2,323,000 with Rapid City comprising nearly $2,000,000 of that goal.

To learn more about the Day of Caring, visit United Way of the Black Hills website. Not available for the remaining Day of Caring events? Visit our partner 211's Volunteer Database to find other volunteer opportunities in your community.

At the September fifth Rapid City Council meeting, Mayor Steve Allender proposed alterations to city sales tax revenue allocations, reports the Rapid City Journal. Under the proposed changes, the percentage of revenue given to the City’s general fund and capital improvement plan will be increased while the amount given to the Vision Fund will be decreased and the utility support fund will be eliminated.

Out of the four funds that receive sales tax revenue, the general fund currently receives the most and will be raised to receive fifty percent of income, a four percent increase. The capital improvement plan will receive a six percent increase, bringing it up to twenty-nine percent while the vision fund will be decreased two percent and the utility support fund will receive no allocation of revenue at all, eliminating the fund.

The changes passed with an eight to two majority by the council but still need to be passed by the city finance and legal committee as well as voted on again by the council in order for the changes to take effect. The projected loss for the Vision Fund, which sets aside money for any future renovations to the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center, would see a decrease of about $1.1 million while the general fund would increase by $2.2 million and the capital improvement plan by $3.4 million.

For information on previous and upcoming City Council meetings, visit the City of Rapid City public meetings page. To read more news about Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

On September 11, 2000, it was announced that the Homestake Gold Mine in Lead would be permanently closed after 124 years of operation. Larry Mann, the spokesman for the mine, shared that the falling price of gold and rising production costs were to blame for the closing. The Homestake Mine was once the oldest and largest producing gold mine in America, with a surface operation nearly a mile wide and underground tunnels descending more than 8,000 feet below the surface. It was also the largest employer in the northern Black Hills.

Though the news was a shock, many workers and townspeople observed previous signs that this day might come. Two years prior, Homestake officials announced massive changes to the mine including a complete restructuring of its underground operations, the shutdown of its open cut surface operations, and a layoff of nearly half the workforce. These changes were imposed to combat shrinking gold prices and sustain operations if gold remained valued above $325 an ounce; however, the price continued to decline. Over the next sixteen months, Homestake workers dismantled equipment and buildings while simultaneously mining the richest reserves to help stem the cost of the shutdown.

Less than a year later, the Barrick Gold Corporation purchased the Homestake Mining Company for a cost of 2.3 billion dollars. While it continued the shutdown of the company’s flagship operation in Lead, Barrick was interested in the other mines that Homestake owned including ones in South America and Australia. With this merger, Barrick became the largest gold corporation in the world.

When shutdown was complete, the remaining buildings of the Homestake Mine stood vacant. Some time later, talks of transforming the former mine into an underground research laboratory arose. The National Science Foundation became interested in the mine because the deep tunnels are an ideal location to study elusive particles called neutrinos and dark matter. After a large donation of $70 million by T. Denny Sanford in 2006, the site was selected to become a  Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory (DUSEL).

After years of delicate construction, Homestake is now known as the Sanford Underground Research Facility and continues to study dark matter and neutrinos 4,850-feet underground. The lab now attracts scientists and science enthusiasts from around the world to learn the past, present, and future of the former mining goliath.

To learn more about the Homestake Gold Mine, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s digital history archive. Learn more about the Deep Underground Science and Engineering Laboratory at the former Homestake Gold Mine at the Black Hills Knowledge Network issue hub page.

Thursday, 07 September 2017 14:56

Property Taxes to Increase in Rapid City

The Rapid City Council approved a one percent property tax increase earlier this week, reports the Rapid City Journal. Rate increases, based on property valuation assessments that will be finalized in November, are currently estimated to be $3.20 per $100,000 of valuation. This would net the city an additional $161,405 in 2018. The rate increase is based on the Consumer Price Index and has been included in previous city budgets without debate.

Alderwomen Darla Drew, Lisa Modrick, and Laura Armstrong and Aldermen Ritchie Nordstrom and Chad Lewis voted for the increase while Aldermen Steve Laurenti, Jason Salamun, and Becky Drury voted against.

Some community members in attendance, representing a local conservative organization the Citizens for Liberty, encouraged the Council to refer the decision to a public vote. According to the city finance officer, a referendum election could cost the city $60,000 based on the March 2015 Civic Center referendum expenses.

For information on previous and upcoming City Council meetings, visit the City of Rapid City public meetings page. To read more news about Rapid City, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive or community profile.

The Spearfish City Council is set for the first reading of its 2018 budget proposal on Tuesday, September 5th. The budget proposed will have an overall decrease of 1.8 percent from last year’s 2017 budget proposal and sees an increase in taxes and utility rates reports the Black Hills Pioneer.

Residents will be expected to pay an increase in utilities and property taxes to meet expenditures for the coming year. The mill levy will increase 0.0031 giving the city $2.825 per $1,000 for its main operating fund, which is mostly financed through property taxes.

Many organization will see an increase in funding, however. City employees will receive a two percent step increase and a one percent cost of living increase. A 1.4 percent increase will benefit organizations such as the Western Hills Humane Society, Artemis House, and the Retired Senior Volunteer Program. The City’s Hospitality Fund will increase 1.2 percent to help fund historic preservation, Special Olympics South Dakota, High Plains Western Heritage Center, and Matthews Opera House. The biggest cut however comes from the Visit Spearfish organization which is appropriated $175,000, a cut of 12.5 percent.

The City of Spearfish’s Capital Improvement Plan consists of $4,084,751 which will include money for new snow removal equipment, road improvement, as well as funds to purchase the former McLaughlin Sawmill.

The full reading will be held Tuesday night. The complete budget proposal will be available at the city finance office. To learn more about the 2018 budget discussions, explore Spearfish City Council minutes. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about Spearfish.

Belle Fourche city officials are proposing to eliminate city subsidies to all organizations other than the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce in its city budget for 2018, reports the Black Hills Pioneer. After nine budget workshops and fifteen tied votes, the finalized budget will be read at the city council meeting Tuesday evening.

After a 48-minute meeting, Belle Fourche City Council members voted to cut $204,000 from the 2018 city budget by eliminating funding to all city subsidies and allocating $25,000 to the Belle Fourche Chamber of Commerce; a $10,000 cut from last year.This is an 89 percent decrease in total subsidy allocation from the 2017 fiscal year.

Council members expressed their frustration over the actions of other members, resulting in the tied votes and the massive cuts. The city did however agree to approve $20,000 in funding for the Black Hills Roundup and possibly provide $200,000 for the construction of new grandstands for the Roundup grounds but no action was taken.

To learn more about the 2018 budget discussions, explore Belle Fourche City Council minutes. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about Belle Fourche.

Tuesday, 05 September 2017 21:59

Vote on Lead Chicken Ordinance Scheduled

Lead city officials received a petition with 130 signatures asking the city government to overturn their June referendum allowing certain barnyard animals on residential property. According to the Black Hills Pioneer, the vote will be held on September first and gives residents the option of voting for the regulations that were set in June or to overturn the new rules and revert back to the previous law. The group who turned in the petition are headed by former Lead Mayor Jerry Apa and eight other Lead residents.

In early June, Lead city commissioners approved Ordinance 1053-17 which outlines regulations regarding the housing of certain animals on residential property. Livestock, ducks, geese, domestic fowl, and rabbits would be banned but chickens would be authorized as long as there are no more than six hens and no roosters. Previously, livestock and other animals were allowed on residential property with the regulation that they must be one-hundred feet from any building including dwellings, churches, stores, schools, or public buildings.

Upon passage of the ordinance, opposition to the decision arose. Apa and others began gathering signatures for a petition to repeal the ordinance. The group in favor of the new ordinance call themselves Lead Chicken Ordinance. They have been campaigning to keep the ordinance in place, alleging that it gives residents the chance to have homegrown eggs and promote business. Apa and his supporters believe that the raising of chickens has no place within the city limits of Lead.

To read more about urban chicken issues in the Black Hills, visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s online news archive. Visit the Black Hills Knowledge Network’s community profile to learn more about Lead.

Monday, 01 May 2017 13:59

BHKN Data Series

BHKN Data Series

On an on-going basis, the Black Hills Knowledge Network compiles data on a variety of topics to provide additional context to local issues of interest. View our Education and Native Data Series to learn more about each topic with the support of reliable data.

Education Data Series

This look at K-12 funding in South Dakota is the first in a series of reports highlighting data specific to education statewide by the South Dakota Dashboard and the Black Hills Knowledge Network. The series examines what the available data shows about education funding, practices and achievements both statewide and in individual school districts. To view series installments, see our Education Data Series Archive.

Native Data Series

The Black Hills Knowledge Network's Native Data Series examines what the available data shows about Native Americans living in the Black Hills region of South Dakota. As the state's and region's largest racial minority, the data often shows distinct differences from the white majority in some categories, while in other categories the data shows close similarities. This series seeks to examine both situations so we all can better understand, respond to and plan for decisions that would affect Natives and non-Natives alike. To view series installments, see our Native Data Series Archive.

Thursday, 01 December 2016 15:04

Butte County Community Profile

Butte County, located in northwestern South Dakota, covers 2,249.90 square miles of land and borders Wyoming to the west. The county was established in the Dakota Territory on March 2, 1883, and today it is home to two municipalities – Belle Fourche and Newell.

After gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1876, ranchers and homesteaders settled the rich agricultural bottomland along the Belle Fourche and Redwater rivers, and became the primary source of food and livestock for the booming gold camps of Lead and Deadwood. The region was originally incorporated by the Dakota Territorial legislature in 1881 as the southern half of Harding County. Butte County split off from Harding two years later.

Learn more about Butte County by exploring our community profile organized in the following categories:

Further information on Butte County can be found on the Belle Fourche community profile. 

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525 University Loop, Suite 202
Rapid City, SD 57701
(605) 716-0058   [email protected]