From the Director, May 2018

The 2018 Statewide Housing Conference brought together more than 340 housing providers, lenders, real estate agents, tribal members, state and federal employees, and invested citizens of our state. Problem solving happens around a cup of coffee and in the hallways, and that was evident as individuals from numerous industries were able to share what they are experiencing from each corner of the state in relation to the current housing market.

Lieutenant Governor Brent Sanford reiterated how critical housing is and how much it impacts the state’s economy—if people can’t afford to live in a community, business can’t find a reliable workforce. It was insightful to hear how Watford City rallied the public and private sector to find solutions to challenging issues and how our agency was able to bring to the table financing programs such as the Housing Incentive Fund, Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Law Enforcement Pilot Program.

We also learned that although North Dakota has an affordable housing shortage, so does every other state in the country. What makes us unique is that builders are building even if the homes are larger and at a higher price point. Our featured speaker, economist Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D., stated that the United States economy is strong and will continue to be so for another 18 months. Even though time and stability are on our side, we have to be prepared to reinvent ourselves in the event of a recession.

This month, state agencies will meet with the Office of Management and Budget and Governor Burgum’s staff to discuss how we can reinvent the way we do business to be more efficient, enhance the customer experience and trim our budgets by at least 10 percent. The fluctuating state budget is already impacting agencies eight months prior to the 66th Legislative Session.

So how does NDHFA begin to reinvent itself while also looking at ways of doing more with less? We are having those conversations around the table over a cup of coffee and in the hallways, seeking everyone’s input because right now, no idea is a bad idea.

We remain committed to our homeownership programs. Homeownership provides stability and shelter, and to help more people achieve this milestone, our income and acquisition limits were just increased. The maximum income limits for NDHFA’s FirstHome™ and HomeAccess programs were set at $83,900 to $98,900, and North Dakota Roots was set at $117,460 to $138,460. The limits vary depending on household size and the county in which a financed home is located.

The FirstHome and HomeAccess acquisition cost limits were set at $271,164 to $303,882 for a new or existing single-family home. Higher limits were approved for existing two- to four-unit properties. These limits also vary based on the county in which a property is located. North Dakota Roots program users must comply with limits set by their loan insurer or guarantor.

Two of our most successful affordable multifamily housing development programs, Low Income Housing Tax Credit and National Housing Trust Fund, are currently open for applications for their 2019 and 2018 funding rounds, respectively. The assistance can be used to support the construction, preservation or rehabilitation of rental units for the most vulnerable members of our communities, ensuring these individuals and families have a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.

While the next few weeks will be spent analyzing budgets, staffing and programs, we will also be rolling out a new Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund. This fund is feasible through a partnership with NDHFA and the North Dakota Department of Human Services to mitigate the potential financial risk to landlords who rent to individuals with a criminal background, bad credit or previous eviction history. NDHFA will be implementing the fund in a manner similar to the program offered by the Fargo-Moorhead Homeless Coalition. Additional information will be provided soon.

The Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund was a goal outlined in North Dakota’s 10-Year Plan to End Long-Term Homelessness that was drafted by the ND Interagency Council on Homelessness in 2008. NDHFA is also working on drafting the final report and evaluating how the state has done overall to end long-term, chronic homelessness. This project involves many program managers in numerous state agencies in addition to the mayors of Bismarck, Fargo and Grand Forks. Social and housing issues are never resolved without collaboration and pooling of resources, and the future is faced with more obstacles due to the magnitude of the behavioral health epidemic and the upswing in Bakken oil production. We know that we did not reach our final goal from a decade ago, but that doesn’t mean we haven’t produced successes.

We have a lot of work to do, we always do. And, the staff at NDHFA are proud to work with all of you to make North Dakota a place that more than 700,000 individuals can call home.

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