Author Archives: NDHFA

About NDHFA

A self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans, NDHFA offers affordable home financing to low- to moderate-income families, ensures the continued availability of suitable rental housing for households of modest means, and focuses on providing for the housing needs of our state's growing communities.

From the Director, November 2018

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Over the past seven years, NDHFA has leveraged the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, working with developers and non-profits across North Dakota to create affordable housing and permanent supportive housing units for low- to moderate-income households, persons with disabilities, the frail elderly, and individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

What we have learned along the way, as many of you already know, is that the need is greater than the available resources. During the last funding round, eight applicants requested more than $4.7 million, however, only $1.6 million from HIF re-balancing dollars was available. The applicants also requested Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Housing Trust Fund dollars because projects that serve extremely low-income households need to have minimal to zero debt after construction to be able to cover operational and maintenance costs.

With our HIF resources now depleted, NDHFA’s staff waits to see if the program will receive new funding during the 2019 North Dakota Legislative Session.

During a recent meeting with the state’s Office of Management and Budget and the Governor’s staff, NDHFA requested $50 million be included in Governor Burgum’s budget for HIF. We know this is a substantial request, but we also know that the demand is present across the state as housing affects every community, urban and rural. Numerous organizations have reached out to NDHFA offering support for HIF, and it is reassuring to know that we are not the only entity that believes in the program.

Fortunately, housing is a bi-partisan issue, and we look forward to working with all of our state legislators, either newly elected or those returning to the capitol in January, to come to an agreement on the program’s future funding level.

At the federal level, NDHFA also continues to express the importance of development programs to rural states, working to ensure our message is not muted by states with larger populations. This year, North Dakota was one of the first states in the country to successfully construct and lease up a project utilizing the Housing Trust Fund, which was created and implemented in 2016. Our close relationships with local communities and public and private entities expedited the planning and construction process, which is sometimes envied by other states.

Recently, after evaluating more ways to get people into homes without using state or federal funding, NDHFA modified our North Dakota Roots program, increasing the income limits to assist in communities where the housing market still presents challenges. Roots is a resource for local lenders to be able to offer affordable financing and down payment and closing cost assistance to households who may have previously owned a home or who are first-time buyers whose incomes exceed the limits of our FirstHome™ program.

And, while the market greatly impacts the ability of people to find housing, sometimes the challenges are created by the individual. Through our newly implemented and operational Opening Doors Program, landlords now have access to a risk mitigation fund that eases concerns about housing individuals and families who have had bad experiences in the past either as a renter or in the justice system. Funding for Opening Doors was made possible through a partnership with the ND Dept. of Human Services.

NDHFA continues to evaluate our existing programs and make modifications, responding to market and community needs. With the changes made recently, we anticipate increased business and we hope that 2019 will be another record-breaking year for the agency as we strive to ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.

Supportive Senior Housing Projects Awarded Development Assistance

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has awarded development assistance to four affordable housing projects that will offer supportive services to help their senior tenants age in place.

NDHFA awarded a total of $3.39 million in federal tax credit authority to the projects through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program which will generate more than $30 million in equity. The Agency also awarded $2.8 million from the National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) and $1.6 million from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund (HIF).

“North Dakota’s seniors are one of the most housing insecure and cost-burdened sectors of our population,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA’s executive director. “Focusing our development resources on supportive housing for these households allows seniors of limited means to live safely and comfortably, and reduces the burden placed on the state if the other alternative is a costly long-term care facility.”

About the Projects

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Century Cottages, a CommunityWorks North Dakota project, will be located on Century Ave. in Bismarck, ND.

Century Cottages, a CommunityWorks North Dakota project that will be located on Century Ave. in Bismarck, ND received $788,000 in LIHTCs. NDHFA also made a commitment of $300,000 from the HTF and $408,047 through HIF. The project will create 35 new one- and two-bedroom apartments. Twenty percent of the units will be reserved for households that require assistance to live independently. The cost of construction is estimated to be $8.5 million.

The Schuett Companies was awarded $899,000 in LIHTCs to support acquisition and renovation of Patterson Place Apartments in downtown Bismarck, ND. The project will also receive $2.5 million from the HTF. The 117-unit property will continue to be operated as housing for seniors and individuals with disabilities. In addition to supportive services, 24/7 staffing will be added. The total project cost is more than $17.2 million.

The Housing Authority of Cass County was awarded $850,000 in LIHTCs to develop The Monterey, the first phase of a planned replacement of its ND1-1 and ND1-2 properties, commonly known as the West Fargo low-rise. The project was also awarded $600,000 through HIF. The Monterey will consist of 42 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments. Twenty percent of the units will be reserved for households that require assistance to live independently. Separate financing will support the development of office space in the property for the housing authority. The total cost of construction is estimated to be $11 million.

Phase two of the Housing Authority of Cass County’s planned replacement of the ND1-1 and ND1-2 properties, known as The Bridges, was also awarded $850,000 in LIHTCs and $600,000 through HIF. The Bridges will consist of 36 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom units. Twenty percent of its units will also be reserved for households that require assistance to live independently. The estimated cost of construction is $9.6 million.

About the Programs
LIHTC provides an indirect federal subsidy used to finance the construction or rehabilitation of rental housing for lower-income households. The purpose of the HTF is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households including homeless families. HIF strengthens communities by supporting the development or preservation of rental housing for low- to moderate-income households.

“North Dakota Housing Finance Agency received 25 total applications for development assistance from 12 different projects during our fall 2018 funding rounds,” said Kline. “All of our programs received requests for more than twice the funding available. The greatest demand was for Housing Trust Fund assistance, more than four times what was available.”

The development programs administered by NDHFA have allocation plans that are reviewed annually to ensure that the projects that receive financial awards address the state’s greatest housing needs. The application process for each program is competitive with the top scoring projects receiving the awards. Each applicant must provide evidence that there is a need for the type of housing proposed, that the community supports the development, and that construction costs are reasonable. The period of affordability for the projects receiving federal funds is 30 years, HIF’s period of affordability is 15 years.

Increase in Homeownership Program Income Limits Approved

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved an increase of the income limits for North Dakota Roots, a program that provides affordable financing, and down payment and closing cost assistance to households who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds the limits of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) FirstHome™ program.

Roots small“Almost 43,000 households have successfully achieved homeownership with North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s assistance,” said members of the Industrial Commission in a joint statement. “By increasing the North Dakota Roots program’s income limits, we hope more households will be able to attain that goal and establish themselves and their families in North Dakota.”

The commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees NDHFA.

With the Commission’s approval, the Roots program’s maximum income limits were set at 200 percent of area median income, $167,800 to $193,200. The limits vary depending on the county in which the financed home is located.

“During discussions with community leaders and our lending partners, they cited the difficulty of finding a secondary market for loans that don’t qualify for conventional financing,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA’s executive director. “By offering this financing option, NDHFA can partner more effectively with our lenders. Without a market for these loans, community growth is hindered particularly in rural areas.”

NDHFA’s homeownership program funding is provided by secondary-market capital. A network of private-sector lenders originate loans on behalf of the agency and sell the loans to NDHFA when they are closed. All of the servicing is retained in state.

Through Roots, NDHFA provides financing to approximately 230 households annually. So far this year, the average program user’s household income is $84,170 and the average loan is $212,300.

Known primarily for the financing it offers first-time homebuyers, NDHFA expanded its capacity to new and returning North Dakotans in 2002 dubbing the program “North Dakota Roots.” In 2014, citing the struggle of households whose income exceeds FirstHome’s program limits to afford the down payment requirements associated with conventional financing, the agency expanded Roots to any qualifying household earning up to 140 percent of the area median income. The maximum Roots loan amount must comply with the current Fannie Mae/Freddie Mac conforming loan amount or the limits of the applicable loan insurer/guarantor. All of NDHFA’s borrowers are expected to meet normal credit underwriting standards and occupy the property as their principal residence.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. More information on the agency’s homeownership programs is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org.

Mainstream Vouchers Available Through Housing Authorities

Five North Dakota housing authorities received HUD grants for Mainstream Vouchers. Mainstream Vouchers can only assist non-elderly persons with disabilities who are: transitioning out of institutional or other segregated setting; at serious risk of institutionalization; homeless, or at risk of becoming homeless. Human service agencies and other support services are encouraged to help households receiving mainstream vouchers live independently within the community.

Grand Forks Housing Authority, Fargo Housing Authority and Redevelopment, Minot Housing Authority, Great Plains Housing Authority (Stutsman), and Housing Authority of Williston received vouchers and funding to assist with these specific groups. Mainstream vouchers are housing choice vouchers and subject to all federal and administrative policies.

Applicants and agencies need to contact these housing authorities and apply using their respective application. When applying applicants should include a letter requesting a “Mainstream Voucher.” Current waiting list applicant can request their application be changed to a “Mainstream Voucher.” Applicants are subject to the housing authorities screening policies. Eligible clients can transfer mainstream vouchers to other communities. Applicants can apply immediately

For more information contact:
Fargo Housing Authority and Redevelopment at 701.269.6262;
Grand Forks Housing Authority at 701.746.2545;
Great Plains Housing Authority at 701.252.1098;
Housing Authority of Williston at 701.572.2006; or
Minot Housing Authority at 701.852.0485.

Opening Doors for Households With Rental Barrier

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is helping households with poor credit, a history of evictions or a criminal record to secure housing. The state agency launched a landlord risk mitigation fund in September to encourage property owners to lease apartments to individuals and families who may not meet their standard rental criteria.

The Opening Doors program helps Medicaid-eligible households secure housing by providing landlords with coverage beyond the security deposit if a participant causes excessive damage to a rental unit or a loss of revenue.

“Offering property owners a financial guarantee mitigates a portion of the risk in renting to these hard-to-house populations,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

One of the key provisions of the program is care coordination provided by a social service agency.

“Households must apply through a care coordinator who agrees to provide services for the duration of the program coverage,” said Kline. “This includes helping to find and secure housing, monitoring their tenancy, and mediating any disputes with the landlord.”
Opening Doors program participants are covered for up to 18 months. During that time, the landlord may receive compensation for damage or lost rent claim coverage for up to $2,000.

“After the program participants’ coverage ends, they may continue to rent from the same landlord or move on to another housing unit,” said Kline. “By establishing a positive rental history, we make them better candidates for their next housing unit.”

The Opening Doors program is a joint effort between NDHFA and the Medical Services Division of the North Dakota Department of Human Services. NDHFA is the administrator. NDDHS approved funding the program with the state’s rebalancing funds. The program will cover up to 67 households. NDHFA will consider alternative funding sources as needed to support additional households.

“As part of a broader focus to connect housing and supportive services, the Opening Doors Program will be an efficient and effective tool to help Medicaid-eligible people with housing barriers be successful tenants and community members,” said Kline. “Establishing these individuals in a stable setting with planned care coordination will produce cost savings for individuals, the community and state.”

A Statewide and Regional Supportive Housing Collaborative identified a landlord risk mitigation fund as a solution to reduce housing barriers for individuals exiting institutional settings or to prevent institutionalization.

Opening Doors was modeled after a landlord risk mitigation program established by the Fargo-Moorhead Coalition for Homeless Person in 2014 that encourages property owners to rent to people who are experiencing homelessness.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency that finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing across the state. The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency.

Opening Doors Provider Webinar

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) Opening Doors Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund provides households with a rental barrier with the opportunity to access housing, and encourages landlords to lease units to households that may not meet all their rental criteria by providing coverage if there is excessive damage or lost revenue. 

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Agencies with a history of providing supportive services, coordination and/or case management services may apply to be an Opening Doors Participating Care Coordination Agency (PCCA), which allow them to refer clients into the program.

NDHFA is hosting a webinar for the agencies that are interested in becoming a PCCA. This webinar will provide an overview of the Opening Doors Program, review provider expectations, discuss the process to become an approved provider, and include a chance to ask questions.

A recording is available online.  You will be asked to register before viewing the webinar. Note there is about a five minute lag in the recording before the webinar begins. 

Development Assistance Available for Affordable Housing

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is currently accepting applications for approximately $1.6 million through the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), a state program that strengthens communities by supporting the development of affordable rental housing for essential service workers and low- to moderate-income households.

“Priority will be given to applicants that demonstrate the need for the housing and the support of the community in which the project will be located,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

Established during the 2011 Legislative Session, HIF was reauthorized and funding was approved in 2013 and 2015. A sunset clause was removed during the 2017 session, however no new funding was provided. The assistance that is currently available is due to the cancellation of previous funding commitments.

NDHFA is also accepting applications for two federal programs – Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and National Housing Trust Fund (HTF). LIHTC offers an incentive for the production or rehabilitation of rental housing for low-income individuals and families. The HTF’s purpose is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households.

Applications for the programs must be received by 5 p.m. on Sept. 28, 2018. More information is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org or by contacting the agency’s planning and housing development division staff at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum, as the chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.