The 63rd Legislative Assembly has wrapped up their work and addressed several issues related to housing. There was a lot of work and stress involved as proposals made their way through the process, but overall the session was a success not only for North Dakota Housing Finance Agency but for affordable housing in general.
The biggest accomplishment was the reauthorization of the Housing Incentive Fund, which will be capitalized with $20 million in tax credits and $15.4 million in a transfer from the state’s general fund. The program, which was first started in 2011, will continue to address affordable rental housing issues in the state and the Legislature added a new priority for essential service workers.
Two bills that made technical correction to Century Code will allow NDHFA some flexibility in financing homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers were also enacted. The measures, HB 1083 and SB 2079, will allow the Agency to access resources to assist even more low- and moderate-income families into affordable and responsible homeownership.
As part of their tax reforms, the Legislature also passed a measure that makes a positive statement that affordable housing is a public purpose and will allow projects owned by nonprofit entities a break on property taxes which will help keep rents lower. Previously affordable housing property tax treatment was checkerboard across the state, but with passage of SB 2338, there is a clear standard that looks favorably on affordable housing projects.
To help address the growing number of homeless individuals in the state, the Legislature provided $2 million to supplement the Emergency Solutions Grant program that provides funds to homeless service providers. They also provided $2.6 million to help address the need for additional child care in the state.
The state is also providing funds to continue to assist Minot in making a full recovery from the 2011 flood. To help ensure that lower-income families that are temporarily housed can stay in their community, $1.5 million was approved to keep occupied FEMA units in service while permanent affordable housing options are built over the next few years.
For a full report on housing legislation, http://www.ndhfa.org/Web_Images/Housing_legislation_web.htm