From the Director, June 2014

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

As we enter summer, housing construction is in full swing and 2014 looks to be as promising as the last several years. Thank goodness for that because people continue to stream into North Dakota at a record clip.

The Census Bureau reported in May that North Dakota’s rate of housing development was tops in the nation with eight counties in the top 100. This really was no surprise, but what often does catch people off guard, especially out-of-staters, is that even with thousands of new housing units being built we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of the demand for housing.

As the economic boom in North Dakota continues to mature, the need for permanent workforce necessitates more permanent housing options – both rental and single-family. The Western North Dakota Energy Project estimates that significant population growth in the oil patch will demand permanent housing numbers to nearly double from 2010 to 2025. The rest of North Dakota also is on track to see extensive growth for the foreseeable future.

Ongoing discussions of needs continue to encourage investors and developers while challenging the state and local communities to provide the infrastructure necessary. This is a very large and very complex problem and what’s worse, there isn’t any one solution. Each place is different with varying resource needs to keep housing development going.

Inherent in these housing growth projections is the need for a portion of the units to be affordable for low- and moderate-income households. Jobs are available at nearly every pay grade across the state and lower cost options must be available for our economic growth to be sustainable. With attractive mortgage rates and higher acquisition cost limits, NDHFA is eager to help more families into responsible homeownership opportunities in North Dakota.

Thanks to the Housing Incentive Fund projects that are under construction, more than 1,200 affordable rental units will come online over the next two years. That’s a lot of units to be certain and something of which to be proud. However, when you consider that North Dakota has been adding more than 10,000 new housing units a year, it suddenly doesn’t seem like enough. The Statewide Housing Needs Assessment projects that we need about 3,000 units affordable for lower-income households each year.

With all the population growth and housing construction happening, there is a lot of speculation and consternation about where we are and what we can expect in the short and long term. There are a lot of people trying to get a better handle on that but what I know is that we need to continue pounding nails in new houses.

Jolene Kline
NDHFA executive director

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