With North Dakota’s strong, diversified economy contributing to statewide growth that is expected to continue well into the future, affordable housing choices are more important than ever. One state program is helping to get new housing options built across the state.
“As North Dakota grows, the need for affordable housing has been one of our biggest challenges,” said Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) acting executive director. “The Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) program has been a huge boost in creating more housing units in communities all over North Dakota.”
The current housing stock in North Dakota that is affordable for low- to moderate-income households has become limited with the high growth rates. It has forced some elderly and disabled households to leave communities they’ve long called home. Service sector businesses have faced challenges in attracting and retaining crucial Main Street employees. And in western North Dakota, limited housing options for essential service workers – law enforcement personnel, road maintenance workers, teachers and medical professionals – threatens quality of life and personal safety.
Through HIF, NDHFA is closing the gap in the financing of affordable rental housing. The original $15 million program, created during the 2011 legislative session, supported the development of 24 projects in primarily disaster and energy-impacted communities.
“HIF was reauthorized during the 2013 legislative session at the urging of the North Dakota Industrial Commission,” said Kline. “The program now supports development without any location specific set-asides.”
HIF II is a $35.4 million program. The state legislature gave NDHFA $20 million in tax credit authority and a $15.4 million general fund appropriation to support the program.
In July, NDHFA made conditional funding commitments to 18 new HIF projects. The agency is currently reviewing more development applications, and anticipates that the program funding will be exhausted during its second funding round.
To ensure that the developments that HIF supports are able to break ground, NDHFA must capitalize the $20 million in tax credits by Dec. 31, 2014.
“By contributing to HIF, businesses and individuals help address North Dakota’s affordable housing needs and have a say in how their state tax dollars are spent,” said Kline.
Contributors receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for their contribution and the contributions can be targeted to a specific project, community or region.