Senate rejects loans for victims of disasters

PIERRE (AP) – State senators have rejected a bill that would have helped residents who lost their homes when the ground collapsed in a Black Hawk neighborhood and exposed an abandoned mine last year.

The legislation that failed Tuesday afternoon would have allowed residents affected by disasters to get low interest or no interest loans from the South Dakota Housing Authority.

Fifteen families lost their homes when when a sinkhole exposed an old gypsum mine in the Hideaway Hills neighborhood in April 2020.

Sen. David Johnson told colleagues that half the homeowners affected have filed for bankruptcy, the Rapid City Journal reported.

Sen. John Wiik said he wasn’t comfortable with a provision in the bill that allows the Legislature to declare disasters.

Sen. Michael Diedrich said a better approach might be the creation of a residential disaster fund. He cautioned against passing the bill.

“The change in public policy is huge,” Diedrich said.

But, Johnson argued the change in public policy fits within the mission of the housing authority.

“The South Dakota Housing Authority exists for a reason,” he said. “This is the epitome of the reason.”

The bill was defeated in the Senate on a vote of 11-24.


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