Increase in Homeownership Program Income Limits Approved

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved an increase of the income limits for North Dakota Roots, a program that provides affordable financing, and down payment and closing cost assistance to households who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds the limits of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) FirstHome™ program.

Roots small“Almost 43,000 households have successfully achieved homeownership with North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s assistance,” said members of the Industrial Commission in a joint statement. “By increasing the North Dakota Roots program’s income limits, we hope more households will be able to attain that goal and establish themselves and their families in North Dakota.”

The commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees NDHFA.

With the Commission’s approval, the Roots program’s maximum income limits were set at 200 percent of area median income, $167,800 to $193,200. The limits vary depending on the county in which the financed home is located.

“During discussions with community leaders and our lending partners, they cited the difficulty of finding a secondary market for loans that don’t qualify for conventional financing,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA’s executive director. “By offering this financing option, NDHFA can partner more effectively with our lenders. Without a market for these loans, community growth is hindered particularly in rural areas.”

NDHFA’s homeownership program funding is provided by secondary-market capital. A network of private-sector lenders originate loans on behalf of the agency and sell the loans to NDHFA when they are closed. All of the servicing is retained in state.

Through Roots, NDHFA provides financing to approximately 230 households annually. So far this year, the average program user’s household income is $84,170 and the average loan is $212,300.

Known primarily for the financing it offers first-time homebuyers, NDHFA expanded its capacity to new and returning North Dakotans in 2002 dubbing the program “North Dakota Roots.” In 2014, citing the struggle of households whose income exceeds FirstHome’s program limits to afford the down payment requirements associated with conventional financing, the agency expanded Roots to any qualifying household earning up to 140 percent of the area median income. The maximum Roots loan amount must comply with the current Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loan amount or the limits of the applicable loan insurer/guarantor. All of NDHFA’s borrowers are expected to meet normal credit underwriting standards and occupy the property as their principal residence.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. More information on the agency’s homeownership programs is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org.

Mainstream Vouchers Available Through Housing Authorities

Five North Dakota housing authorities received HUD grants for Mainstream Vouchers. Mainstream Vouchers can only assist non-elderly persons with disabilities who are: transitioning out of institutional or other segregated setting; at serious risk of institutionalization; homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Human service agencies and other support services are encouraged to help households receiving mainstream vouchers live independently within the community.

Grand Forks Housing Authority, Fargo Housing Authority and Redevelopment, Minot Housing Authority, Great Plains Housing Authority (Stutsman), and Housing Authority of Williston received vouchers and funding to assist with these specific groups. Mainstream vouchers are housing choice vouchers and subject to all federal and administrative policies.

Applicants and agencies need to contact these housing authorities and apply using their respective application. When applying applicants should include a letter requesting a “Mainstream Voucher.” Current waiting list applicant can request their application be changed to a “Mainstream Voucher.” Applicants are subject to the housing authorities screening policies. Eligible clients can transfer mainstream vouchers to other communities. Applicants can apply immediately

For more information contact:
Fargo Housing Authority and Redevelopment at 701.269.6262;
Grand Forks Housing Authority at 701.746.2545;
Great Plains Housing Authority at 701.252.1098;
Housing Authority of Williston at 701.572.2006; or
Minot Housing Authority at 701.852.0485.

Opening Doors for Households With Rental Barrier

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is helping households with poor credit, a history of evictions or a criminal record to secure housing. The state agency launched a landlord risk mitigation fund in September to encourage property owners to lease apartments to individuals and families who may not meet their standard rental criteria.

The Opening Doors program helps Medicaid-eligible households secure housing by providing landlords with coverage beyond the security deposit if a participant causes excessive damage to a rental unit or a loss of revenue.

“Offering property owners a financial guarantee mitigates a portion of the risk in renting to these hard-to-house populations,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

One of the key provisions of the program is care coordination provided by a social service agency.

“Households must apply through a care coordinator who agrees to provide services for the duration of the program coverage,” said Kline. “This includes helping to find and secure housing, monitoring their tenancy, and mediating any disputes with the landlord.”
Opening Doors program participants are covered for up to 18 months. During that time, the landlord may receive compensation for damage or lost rent claim coverage for up to $2,000.

“After the program participants’ coverage ends, they may continue to rent from the same landlord or move on to another housing unit,” said Kline. “By establishing a positive rental history, we make them better candidates for their next housing unit.”

The Opening Doors program is a joint effort between NDHFA and the Medical Services Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services. NDHFA is the administrator. NDDHS approved funding the program with the state’s rebalancing funds. The program will cover up to 67 households. NDHFA will consider alternative funding sources as needed to support additional households.

“As part of a broader focus to connect housing and supportive services, the Opening Doors Program will be an efficient and effective tool to help Medicaid-eligible people with housing barriers be successful tenants and community members,” said Kline. “Establishing these individuals in a stable setting with planned care coordination will produce cost savings for individuals, the community and state.”

A Statewide and Regional Supportive Housing Collaborative identified a landlord risk mitigation fund as a solution to reduce housing barriers for individuals exiting institutional settings or to prevent institutionalization.

Opening Doors was modeled after a landlord risk mitigation program established by the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Person in 2014 that encourages property owners to rent to people who are experiencing homelessness.

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

Opening Doors Provider Webinar

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) Opening Doors Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund provides households with a rental barrier with the opportunity to access housing, and encourages landlords to lease units to households that may not meet all their rental criteria by providing coverage if there is excessive damage or lost revenue. 

OpeningDoors3

Agencies with a history of providing supportive services, coordination and/or case management services may apply to be an Opening Doors Participating Care Coordination Agency (PCCA), which allow them to refer clients into the program.

NDHFA is hosting a webinar for the agencies that are interested in becoming a PCCA. This webinar will provide an overview of the Opening Doors Program, review provider expectations, discuss the process to become an approved provider, and include a chance to ask questions.

A recording is available online.  You will be asked to register before viewing the webinar. Note there is about a five minute lag in the recording before the webinar begins. 

Development Assistance Available for Affordable Housing

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is currently accepting applications for approximately $1.6 million through the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), a state program that strengthens communities by supporting the development of affordable rental housing for essential service workers and low- to moderate-income households.

“Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate the need for the housing and the support of the community in which the project will be located,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

Established during the 2011 Legislative Session, HIF was reauthorized and funding was approved in 2013 and 2015. A sunset clause was removed during the 2017 session, however no new funding was provided. The assistance that is currently available is due to the cancellation of previous funding commitments.

NDHFA is also accepting applications for two federal programs – Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and National Housing Trust Fund (HTF). LIHTC offers an incentive for the production or rehabilitation of rental housing for low-income individuals and families. The HTF’s purpose is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households.

Applications for the programs must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2018. More information is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org or by contacting the agency’s planning and housing development division staff at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum, as the chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.

From the Director, August 2018

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Throughout my years at the agency, I’ve learned that when communities advocate for themselves, the outcome can be dynamic. This month I participated in three community events where organized and passionate stakeholders, focused on long-term goals, achieved their vision for diversified housing. It is exciting to be a part of their vision during the development phase and to celebrate their successes at major milestones.

LaGrave on First in Grand Forks is a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project that will house 42 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness utilizing the ‘Housing First’ model where the individuals are rapidly housed and then offered services to address the issues causing their homelessness. After years of planning, six funding streams and strong community support, LaGrave on First opened its doors this month.

Another Housing First project, Edwinton Apartments in Bismarck, broke ground in August. It will create 40 new PSH units and be operational by the fall of 2019. The project is located within an Opportunity Zone that was designated by Gov. Burgum earlier this year.

We know that chronically homeless individuals cost communities $30,000 to $50,000 every year. Providing these individuals with immediate access to housing is estimated to save a community up to 40 percent of the total cost. Having a home is so important as the foundation for a new life where individuals can feel safe and begin their personal journey to stability and recovery. LaGrave and Edwinton are modeled after the Cooper House, North Dakota’s a Housing First project which opened in Fargo in 2010. After seeing Fargo’s success, other communities have a viable, working template to customize to fit within the parameters of their own needs.

Minot’s Park South Apartments, built in 1948 as a convent and converted to apartments in the 1980s, now offers 40 renovated housing units, 30 are deemed affordable. This project is a significant milestone for Minot for many reasons. In 2016, the city applied for and was awarded one of 13 National Disaster Resilience (NDR) grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling $74.3 million. The city designated $21 million of their award for affordable multifamily housing. Park South is one of the first NDR completed projects in the nation and fills a critical affordable housing gap in the community. The project also received $2.23 million from NDHFA’s Housing Incentive Fund which was made possible by financial contributions from local banks, businesses and individuals in exchange for $2.23 million in state income tax credits.

Further west in the state, the Williston/Watford City areas are once again dealing with housing shortages which is also a workforce recruitment issue. In April, conversations began about how NDHFA’s Construction Loan Guarantee program could be leveraged to alleviate the pressure on this housing market. After analyzing the potential impact and discussions with multiple community stakeholders, the program has been modified. It can now provide up to $500,000 in guarantees per community or per contractor. Initially, it was designed to no more than five guarantees per community and three per contractor. This change will allow lenders to work with builders to determine the best balance between construction costs and local demand, taking advantage when possible of the economies of scale that come with building multiple homes in one location at one time. We are interested to see how communities benefit from the program change.

NDHFA’s mission is to make housing affordable for all North Dakotans, making the agency a stakeholder in every urban and rural community across the state. Together with these communities, private industry, nonprofits, faith-based entities and government agencies, we are making progress.

Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals Underway

BISMARCK, ND – Construction has begun on Edwinton Place, a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project that will offer stable housing and support services for 40 individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the Bismarck area. The approach that will be utilized is called ‘Housing First’.

Edwinton Place

Edwinton Place, a Permanent Supportive Housing project, will provide stable housing and support services for 40 individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the Bismarck area.

“Through the Housing First model, some of the barriers to rental housing entry are set aside. The individual is provided with a permanent, stable home and then support services are offered to address the underlying causes of their homelessness,” said Dwight Barden, Burleigh County Housing Authority (BCHA) executive director.

Chronically homeless individuals typically have mental health or substance abuse issues, a chronic health condition, or a history of physical or sexual abuse. The need to provide supportive housing for these individuals was first discussed in 2008 in Bismarck-Mandan’s 10-Year Plan to End Homeless. Since that time, local service providers have been planning and educating key stakeholders to gain support for a PSH development. As an experienced provider of affordable housing, BCHA agreed to take the lead and be the owner and manager of the property.

BCHA has partnered with Beyond Shelter Inc. (BSI), a nonprofit developer of affordable housing to develop Edwinton Place. “Beyond Shelter focuses on providing housing for the lowest income households in a community, the people whose needs are typically overlooked,” said BSI CEO Dan Madler. “The underlying causes of chronic homeless not only negatively affects an individual’s ability to be successful in traditional rental housing, these issues are also very costly to the community.”

Chronically homeless individuals are frequent users of emergency services which can cost a community $30,000 to $50,000 per year per individual. Providing these individuals with immediate access to housing is estimated to save a community up to 40 percent of the total cost of experiencing chronic homelessness.

“North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has prioritized the use of our development resources, focusing on permanent supportive housing to help address chronic homelessness in North Dakota,” said Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) executive director.

Funding commitments provided by NDHFA will cover the majority of Edwinton Place’s development costs. The state agency awarded federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will provide the project with $7.2 million in equity, and awarded $1,026,147 from the National Housing Trust Fund, $500,000 from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund and $460,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization III Program. The total project cost is $10.3 million.

Edwinton Place also received support from the City of Bismarck, in agreement with Burleigh County and the Bismarck Public School District, a 20-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes for the property valued at more than $2 million. The North Dakota Department of Commerce committed $730,000 through the Neighborhood Stabilization I Program for land acquisition. Through Bank of North Dakota, the Federal Home Loan Bank awarded $750,000 from the Affordable Housing Program, and the Otto Bremer Trust committed $62,000 to help cover pre-development costs. The project’s construction financing will be provided by Gate City Bank.

Edwinton Place is being built on an infill lot just south of Bismarck Expressway and is within an Opportunity Zone designated by Gov. Burgum earlier this year. The four-story building will have a controlled entrance with 24/7 staffing. On the first floor, offices, meeting rooms and an exam room will allow for services to be provided at the site. The upper floors will be made up of 40 one-bedroom/one-bath apartments. Eight of the units will be fully accessible for persons with a physical disability. All of the units will be furnished. The developers anticipate that the property will be complete by next fall.

The tenants will be selected in partnership with the local Coordinated Entry System which is operated by agencies that provide service to people who are homeless. Project-Based Housing Choice Vouchers will be provided by BCHA to assure the affordability of the units for the extremely low-income tenants.