Larissa Deedrich
Back Talent

From Virginia to Sioux Falls, new housing leader focuses on improved affordability

  • April 1, 2024

She was too young to realize it at the time, but the woman now tasked with helping improve access to housing in the Sioux Falls area once was homeless herself.

“I just remember camping a lot for a summer,” said Larissa Deedrich, who recently moved to Sioux Falls from Virginia to become the new executive director of the Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission.

Larissa Deedrich

“My dad had taken a new job as a police officer in Illinois, and it wasn’t until I was in my 20s that my mom said we were homeless that summer. We’d camped the whole summer while he worked to try and save up money for a security deposit.”

Deedrich’s own passion for serving others led her to a career in affordable housing, first at a housing authority in Illinois, then leadership positions in Wisconsin and Virginia.

“I feel like stable housing is the first step in helping someone go down that path of self-sufficiency,” she said.

“If you’re always in crisis mode, if you don’t have a stable place to lay your head at night, everything else takes a back seat: your health, your job, your family. Trying to find a place to stay is crucial.”

Deedrich brings with her a record of collaboration to provide stable, affordable housing options and complementary programming to help with financial literacy and stability.

Larissa Deedrich talking on phone in office

“I was at a housing conference, and an executive recruiter talked to me about Sioux Falls and said: ‘I think it’s right up your alley. They’re looking for an executive director who is innovative and wants to create community partnerships and grow programs.’ It was a hard decision, but we’d done so much in Virginia, and it was stable, and I wanted to take on another agency and grow the same process.”

As she considered the community, the vibrancy of Sioux Falls stood out, she said.

Larissa Deedrich in meeting

“I met a lot of local community leaders, and what clinched it for me was that everyone knew we had to work together,” Deedrich said. “I’ve been in communities where that’s not always easy, and everyone here has a plan to support each other and work together to reach our goals, and that’s what I really liked about the community.”

Sioux Falls Housing helps people find stable public housing, while at the same time its Affordable Housing Solutions arm is developing more accessible housing in the Sioux Falls area.

Larissa Deedrich in front of Sioux Falls Housing and Redevelopment Commission sign

“We’re not just talking about very low or even low-income families,” Deedrich said. “People who are teachers, first responders, people who can’t necessarily go into the homes being built for $650,000 but need workforce housing, and that’s really what we want to grow and develop in Sioux Falls.”

Deedrich and her husband, Curt, moved to Sioux Falls as she began her new role earlier this year. For now, their three dogs are with them, and the goal is to find a home that also accommodates their two horses.

Curt, a small-business owner, is looking for a commercial space to grow his sign business.

“He’s originally from Illinois and is excited to come back to the Midwest and be in a community with a lot of great options for business. It’s very vibrant, and we like the ambiance,” she said.

“One of our favorite things to do is go to the Washington Pavilion. We’ve seen a couple shows, we like the nightlife in the downtown area, and that’s a lot of fun.”

The Deedrich family made a strong choice in moving to Sioux Falls, said Denise Guzzetta, vice president of talent and workforce development for the Sioux Falls Development Foundation.

“It’s a big move to come to a new community as an established career professional, but I think Larissa already is seeing why innovative leaders are so impressed when they discover Sioux Falls,” she said.

“And soon, Curt will also discover what a fantastic place this is as a small-business owner and how many resources and relationships you’re able to access.”

Also critically, Deedrich’s work in accessible housing is key to the community’s broader goals, Guzzetta said.

“We’re committed to Sioux Falls becoming a place where you have even more options for where to live,” she said.

“That means an increased focus on workforce housing so that you’re able to become a homeowner or find a fit in an apartment that meets your household’s needs, fits your budget and allows you to continue to grow here. We’re taking a collaborative approach as Larissa said, and we’re excited to welcome her to our community.”

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