Housing in question as Ellsworth Air Force Base prepares for B-21

City officials are reminding the public to submit comments on the upcoming housing and development plans that are still in the works
Published: Aug. 25, 2022 at 7:46 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - With the expected influx of military personnel moving to Box Elder with the arrival of the B-21 Raider, one of the main concerns is not being able to find affordable housing.

This topic of conversation was led by the South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority Thursday, and is one of the critical points of the Defense Authorization Bill for this year. South Dakota Senator John Thune touched on the subject by mentioning that he knows there is already an increase in people moving to the area and that, with current plans in place, there will be enough housing by the time the project is finished.

“I think that there are enough plans underway, partnerships developing between builders, and the community and the state. I think these kinds of building projects will accommodate the additional demand that it is going to generate,” said Thune.

He also gave some insight into what was going into the Defense Authorization Bill.

“One of the things that we included this year in the Defense Authorization Bill was authority for the Secretary of the Air Force to increase the basic housing allowance, which I think right now is $900 for a single person and $1,200 for a married couple. And in this economy, it makes it pretty challenging,” said Thune.

With more families moving to Box Elder and the surrounding area, there is some concern over educational resources. Executive Director for South Dakota Ellsworth Development Authority, Scott Landguth, confirmed that the group willwork with the school districts to try and find a solution to accommodate more students.

“We are working with the school districts to assist them with funding options that are available for expansion and we are working with them on ways to assist on the federal level to get some of the federal impact aid for schools that see an increase in students from military families,” said Landguth.

Currently, the group is focusing on working with the Douglas School District.

As for the B-21 Raider, the plane is expected to touch down at Ellsworth Air Force Base by the middle of the decade.