From the Director, November 2016

JoleneKlineWeb

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

The next year will be interesting for affordable housing in North Dakota and across the country. With economic, political and demographic changes all afoot, there are many unknowns.
The recent elections will bring a new president, new governor and many new legislators in North Dakota. Learning more about their policy aims and helping to provide information on housing needs in the state to them is an important task for us. There will be many issues on the table and we need to make sure that housing is not forgotten.

There were some housing champions who retired or were defeated and we will miss working with them, but I am hopeful that we will have good working relationships with all of our policymakers and that a new crop of champions will arise. I thank our past elected officials for their service to our state and congratulate all those who won a seat.

As the Statewide Housing Needs Assessment shows us, the affordable housing needs in North Dakota are real and they are significant. With increases in seniors, low-income households and people with a disability expected in the next 15 years, our work definitely is not done. Having the resources to address those needs could be a challenge. As our latest allocation round for the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program showed us, there just is not enough money to fund all of the good and needed projects that are out there. In the last several years, we can only fund about half of the projects that apply for funds. The Housing Incentive Fund has helped make up that difference and has been a powerful tool. But with the program set to end on June 30, we may not have the ability to create the housing that will be needed for the additional households we expect to see.

While the oil slowdown and changes in the economic condition of the state have created some uncertainty, we have also seen households that have been able to take advantage of the situation (in the best possible way). We have seen increased homebuyer activity across the state, which is very positive. We know that a rental situation isn’t ideal for every family so if some can get into their own home in an affordable way, our communities will benefit. We are proud of the role we can play in helping those families and communities. There are also some households that need affordable rental options so we are proud of how we can help them too.

Where we go in the future is in our hands and I am hopeful that affordable housing will continue to be part of the conversation.

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