From the Director, March 2019

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Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

This winter has been challenging, the on-going extreme cold temperatures, snow and wind have tested our mental endurance. However, most of us can be thankful for a warm place to take shelter. Since January, the agency has been working on three legislative bills introduced to secure funding for North Dakota’s Housing Incentive Fund (HIF). After crossover last week, we are down to one. We are diligently working with committee members and stakeholders to express why HIF is critical for so many North Dakotans who are in need of housing that is affordable. As of today, $10 million is allocated to the program through Senate Bill 2271.

On Monday, I appeared before the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting that the Governor’s original recommendation of $20 million be added back to North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s budget bill, House Bill 1014. The committee is well aware of HIF and just like everyone else, they are waiting until March 11th and 12th to see what the next state budget forecast looks like.

All of the HIF dollars provided to our agency have been obligated. If this legislative body does not support a new funding source for this state-funded program, NDHFA will only have the limited dollars provided by the federal government for rehab and development.

We also requested that the Essential Service Worker requirement be removed from the Century Code to provide more flexibility to address community-driven housing needs.

2018 was a major year for North Dakotans buying homes. The whole year trended higher than forecasted and in the end, NDHFA purchased the most loans in a non-event (i.e., natural disaster) year than ever before. We were surprised to look at our January’s home loan reservations and learn that despite the weather, January 2019 is trending above 2018! The state’s economy and quality of life have been instrumental in attracting people from other parts of the country and world and is helping to retain our youth after they complete high school and college. Providing them with affordable housing opportunities, both purchase and rental, is crucial to keep that trend moving forward.

I invite you to learn more about the future of North Dakota’s housing market by registering for the Statewide Housing Conference. “Housing North Dakota” which will be held May 20-21, 2019, at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck, ND.

NDHFA’s staff has organized a great line up of dynamic speakers focusing on federal, state and local trends influencing housing, a look at the future through demographics, and most importantly a session on how to use the provided information when planning. All of this is packed into the first day, the conference’s Policy Day. The second day of the event is dedicated to training specifically for our homeownership, property management and multifamily development partners. Lots of continuing education options will be provided too. Don’t miss out on this once a year opportunity to gain valuable insight and network with your peers.

Housing Policy and Professional Development Are Conference Focus

BISMARCK, ND – “Housing North Dakota,” a conference hosted annually by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency brings affordable housing-industry professionals and community leaders together for two days of professional development and policy discussions. The 2019 event is May 20-21 at the Ramkota Hotel in Bismarck, ND.

“To successfully address North Dakota’s current affordable housing needs, it’s essential to have an understanding of governing policies and available resources,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “At Housing North Dakota, attendees will hear from recognized experts and can make real face-to-face connections.”

Conference presentations on May 20 will focus on policy and include a discussion with Gov. Doug Burgum of the state’s most pressing housing issues and a future forecast from Demographer Ken Gronbach. At noon, Stockton Williams of the National Council of State Housing Agencies will provide a Washington Briefing. Afternoon plenary sessions include a panel discussion on local legislative accomplishments, recommendations for attracting and retaining a 21st Century Workforce and a strategic planning presentation focused on understanding the impact of market forces.

The May 21st concurrent sessions offer professional development opportunities for lending and real estate professionals, multifamily housing developers, and property owners and managers. NDHFA will present its Champion of Affordable Housing Awards on the second day of the event as well. The awards recognize and honor exceptional affordable housing contributions made in North Dakota.

Continuing education applications have been submitted to the ND Real Estate Commission, ND Real Estate Appraiser Qualifications and Ethics Board, and the ND Board of Social Work Examiners. Credit will be offered upon the approval of the program by these licensing organizations. Conference attendance can also be submitted for the National Development Council’s Housing Development Finance Professional, the National Apartment Association’s Certified Apartment Manager and the National Association of Homebuilders’ Housing Credit Certified Professional recertifications.

Register online at www.ndhfa.org by May 10, 2019, to receive the lowest rates, $170 for the Full Conference (Policy and Training Day) and $90 for Policy Day or Training Day alone. After May 10, 2019, Full Conference is $190 and Policy Day or Training Day alone is $100.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing in North Dakota. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum, as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.

Public Hearings Scheduled for Development Program Plans

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) will hold Public Hearings for the 2020 Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) Program Qualified Allocation Plan and the 2019 National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) Allocation Plan on March 28, 2019.

The LIHTC hearing will begin at 10 a.m. and the HTF hearing at 11 a.m., both CT. The hearings will be held in the boardroom at NDHFA’s office, 2624 Vermont Ave., Bismarck, ND.

The LIHTC program provides incentives for the production and rehabilitation of affordable rental housing. The HTF program supports the development and preservation of affordable rental housing for extremely low-income households, including homeless individuals and families. The proposed plans are available online at www.ndhfa.org.

The general public may submit either written or oral comments at the hearings. Persons who are unable to attend the hearings may submit written comments to hfainfo@nd.gov or NDHFA, PO Box 1535, Bismarck, ND 58502-1535, by 5:00 p.m. on March 27, 2019.

Persons needing accommodation or assistance to attend the hearing should contact NDHFA’s Planning and Housing Development division director at (800) 292-8621, (800) 366-6888 (TTY) or email hfainfo@nd.gov.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency.

From the Director, January 2019

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

2018 was a great year for North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) and homeowners across the state. We had a record-breaking year, purchasing 1,798 loans with a total value of more than $300 million. Normally, the agency averages about 1,200 loans purchased annually.

While our Homeownership Division was handling an increased workload, our Planning and Development Division was modifying programs to support the changing needs of North Dakota communities and launching a Landlord Mitigation program to assist individuals and families who struggle to find rental housing because of poor credit, a criminal background or a past eviction. If you haven’t seen it yet, you’ll find more 2018 highlights in our Annual Report.

In December, Governor Burgum announced his recommendation to allocate $20 million to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) from the Strategic Investment and Improvements Fund. NDHFA’s budget bill HB 1014 has been introduced and we have requested the Governor’s recommendation of $20 million for HIF be added to the bill.

Since the introduction of HB 1014, two more bills supporting HIF have been introduced in the Senate. SB 2271 would allocate $40 million from the general fund and SB 2302 creates $10 million in tax credits for HIF. Having three bills pertaining to the program is keeping the Agency and our stakeholders busy. Telling our story to legislators about the personal impact HIF makes in urban and rural communities is critical as they face tough decisions when drafting the state’s budget.

To create awareness about each community’s unique needs, our affordable housing factsheets for each district have been updated. Additionally, we highlighted the impact HIF has made across the state, to our aging population, and to individuals and families needing permanent supportive housing. I ask that you review the information and reach out to your state legislators to ask them to support the state’s only affordable housing financing tool and the flexibility it provides allowing North Dakota communities to address their unique housing needs.

In addition to HIF, there are numerous bills pertaining to the Department of Human Services and Department of Corrections that aim to provide supportive services for the state’s most vulnerable populations. If you want to learn more about this legislation and follow the state’s legislative process, you can do so by visiting the Legislative Assembly website.

We look forward to updating you on HIF legislation in our next newsletter. In the meantime, we hope you’ve saved our Statewide Housing Conference dates, May 20-21. When the event agenda is final, we’ll provide details on the speaker line up. Stay tuned!

Housing Agency a Top FHA Loan Servicer

BISMARCK, ND – The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) National Servicing Center has ranked the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) as a Tier 1 Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan servicer for FY 2018.

A state agency, NDHFA provides first-time buyers with purchase assistance including loan guarantees that allow low- to moderate-income borrowers with low down payments to achieve homeownership.

“NDHFA’s homeownership programs are not only affordable, all of our loans are serviced locally so that our borrowers are able to speak to a real person if they have a question about their loan,” said Dave Flohr, the agency’s homeownership division director.

The tier ranking system measures FHA servicer compliance with guidelines and intervention requirements, loss mitigation engagement, and reporting. The intention is to protect borrowers and alert HUD to potential problems. A high work-out ratio shows a servicer’s effectiveness in working with delinquent borrowers to keep them out of foreclosure.

“HUD is very focused on timely reporting of delinquency issues with the intention of getting borrowers back on track as soon as possible,” said Flohr.

The loan servicers receive quarterly scores that were averaged to produce the final fiscal year-end score. NDHFA scored 95.77 percent for the year.

Of the 9,000 loans NDHFA currently services, approximately 45 percent are FHA guaranteed.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA is dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

Counseling Grants Improve Housing Situations

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has been awarded a $102,345 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) housing counseling grant for fiscal year 2018.

“Housing counseling grants support programs that educate first-time home buyers, help individuals and families secure affordable rental housing, and offer financial literacy training,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

NDHFA will split the grant dollars between two affiliate organizations – Community Action Opportunities of Minot and South Eastern North Dakota Community Action Agency of Fargo.

NDHFA was one of 17 state housing finance agencies (HFAs) to receive a counseling grant from HUD this year. HFAs typically act as an intermediary for their state, partnering with local organizations to provide assistance to low- to moderate-income households. The HFAs also help improve the quality of the counseling services and enhance coordination among the providers.

HUD’s housing counseling grants are awarded annually through a competitive process. The organizations that apply must be preapproved by the federal agency and are subject to biennial performance reviews to maintain the approved status.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA is dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org.

Housing Agency Wraps Up Record-Breaking Year

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is wrapping up a record-breaking year. The state agency, known primarily for the affordable financing it offers through its FirstHome™ program, set a production record in 2018 by purchasing 1,798 loans with a total value of more than $300 million.

“If the increased activity is indicative of more young families, both those new to North Dakota and life-long residents, pursuing homeownership, that’s good for all of North Dakota because homeowners are typically more invested in their community than renters,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

NDHFA’s loan production was 134 percent higher in 2018 than the previous year. Activity peaked in May when NDHFA received 246 reservations for $41.5 million in financing. The agency’s staff attributes some of the increased demand to the interest rates it was able to offer this past year.

“A favorable market for the mortgage-revenue bonds that fund our FirstHome program allowed NDHFA to offer financing for most of the year at a rate that was lower than what was available in the conventional marketplace,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

“The one-half of one percent or more rate difference results in significant savings on monthly payments.”This past year, two-thirds of FirstHome program users also utilized the down payment and closing cost assistance NDHFA offers. “The assistance allows first-time buyers to enter the market sooner or to retain their savings for household expenses they didn’t have as renters like purchasing a lawn mower or snow blower,” said Flohr.

The purchase price of single-family homes financed through NDHFA’s FirstHome program cannot exceed $271,164 to $303,882, depending on household size and the county in which the property is located. The average FirstHome loan purchased in 2018 was just under $166,000. The program is available to state residents earning up to $98,900 who have not owned a home in the last three years. The average FirstHome borrower’s household income in 2018 was $58,600.

In addition to the FirstHome loans NDHFA purchased, the agency’s production total for the year includes its HomeAccess loans, a program for special needs households who may have previously owned a home, and North Dakota Roots, a program that assists moderate-income buyers who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds the FirstHome program limits.

In an average year, NDHFA purchases 1,200 loans. Private-sector lenders originate loans on the agency’s behalf in communities statewide and sell them to NDHFA when the loans close. Currently, 47 financial institutions across the state are partnered with the agency to offer its financing. The greatest overall program use is in Cass and Burleigh/Morton counties.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA’s homeownership programs is available online at www.ndhfa.org.