Category Archives: General Agency News

From the Interim Executive Director, September 2019

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Dave Flohr, NDHFA Interim Executive Director

Over the past three decades, I have been involved in nearly every segment of NDHFA. As the agency has grown in both staff and programs and branched into new divisions, I have focused my attention on homeownership. Now, over the past two months as acting interim director, I have gotten a crash course on urban and rural multifamily housing, financing and the services offered to vulnerable populations.

Five projects North Dakota Housing Finance Agency supported had groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting ceremonies in the last two months, and at least three more events are scheduled before the end of the year. As we celebrate each project and the affordable housing provided, we continuously hear that there is still isn’t enough to meet each community’s needs.

With the September application deadlines approaching for the 2019 funding rounds for Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC), National Housing Trust Fund and the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, the competition is extensive and choosing is never easy. For every awardee, there are numerous projects that are just as deserving.

Right now, we have an opportunity to expand the limited resources to develop more affordable housing. There is a bill in Congress – the Affordable Housing Credit Improvement Act of 2019, S. 1703/H.R. 3077 – which, if passed, would greatly benefit small states like North Dakota at a magnitude much more significant than larger states which have other resources at their disposal. If passed, the efficiencies and enhancements contained in the Housing Credit Improvement Act would enable North Dakota to double, and maybe triple, the number of projects produced each year.

And so, I ask everyone to please advocate for affordable housing in your communities and in our state. Voice your support for programs like LIHTC and HUD’s HOME Investment Partnership, and also champion local city and county incentives – without any of which affordable housing development would not be possible. Communicate with our lawmakers, whether they convene in Bismarck, N.D., or in Washington D.C., that having a home that is safe, decent and affordable is a priority in North Dakota. It makes our communities stronger and keeps us growing!

Lenders Invited to Learn About Homeownership Programs

Mortgage lenders are invited to learn about the purchase assistance North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) offers first-time buyers, special needs families, and moderate-income households who needed help purchasing a new home.

“Lender training offers an introduction to FirstHome™, an NDHFA program that provides the affordable financing and purchase assistance many households require to become homeowners,” said Dave Flohr, the agency’s interim executive director/homeownership division director. “We will also discuss programs geared to single parents, households with elderly or disabled family members, honorably discharged veterans, and North Dakotans whose income exceeds our standard homeownership program limits.”

NDHFA will host a training on Sept. 18 at the DoubleTree, 825 Beaton Drive, in West Fargo. On Oct. 16, the agency will host training at the Radisson Hotel, 605 E Broadway Ave., in Bismarck. The registration deadline for the West Fargo training is Sept. 13 and the Bismarck training registration deadline is Oct. 11. Both classes are limited to 50 people. Register online at www.ndhfa.org.

NDHFA offers the training to the new staff of its participating lenders, pending participating lender staff, and current participating lender staff who are interested in a refresher course. Both sessions begin at 9:00 a.m., CT, and run to approximately 1:00 p.m. There are no registration fees, however pre-registration is required.

Questions regarding NDHFA’s homeownership programs or the lender training can be directed to the agency’s homeownership division staff at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

Conquering Compliance Registration is Now Open

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) will host “Conquering Compliance,” an in-depth multifamily housing compliance training, this fall in Bismarck, ND.

On Oct. 15-16, 2019, Gary Kirkman of the E&A Team, will lead a two-day training at the Quality Inn, 1030 E Interstate Ave. It will be followed by an optional Housing Credit Certified Professional (HCCP) exam on Oct. 17, 2019, at the same facility.

The E&A Team’s training series takes an in-depth look at compliance based on a project’s funding source. The course includes engaging and interactive sessions utilizing case studies, verification examples, knowledge check exercises and games to ensure you walk away with a thorough understanding of not only how to maintain project compliance, but why it is so important to do so.

The registration fee for the training is $250 and includes lunch each day and refreshments. The cost for the HCCP exam is an additional $175. All attendees will receive a durable and comprehensive course manual that will serve as a valuable resource guide long after the course ends.

Lodging is available at the training site, the Quality Inn, and at the hotel’s sister facility, the Comfort Suites, 929 Gateway Ave., both in Bismarck, ND. The “ND Housing Finance Agency” block rate is $84.60 per night for a single or a double at both locations. Contact the Quality Inn, (701) 223-1911, or the Comfort Suites, (701) 223-4009, to reserve a sleeping room.

More information on the training is available on NDHFA’s website, www.ndhfa.org, or by contacting Jennifer Henderson, planning and housing development division director, at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

Capital Magnet Fund Grant Presentation

Webinar

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) will co-host a facilitated, one-hour webinar on Monday, June 24, 2019, at 10:00 a.m., CDT, with the Community Development Financial Institutions (CDFI) Fund to review the Capital Magnet Fund program.

The Capital Magnet Fund offers competitively awarded grants to finance affordable housing solutions and community revitalization efforts that benefit low-income people and communities.  Eligible applicants must be a certified CDFI or a non-profit organization operating with a principal purpose of developing or managing affordable housing solutions. More information about the fund is available online, https://www.cdfifund.gov/programs-training/Programs/cmf/Pages/default.aspx.

“During the webinar, the CDFI staff will provide a basic outline of the program’s structure and requirements,” said Jennifer Henderson, NDHFA Planning and Housing Development division director. “This is a great opportunity for North Dakota organizations to learn about the fund.”

Join the webinar from your computer, tablet or smartphone, https://global.gotomeeting.com/join/234284789. If you are new to GoToMeeting, get the app now and be ready when the meeting starts, https://global.gotomeeting.com/install/234284789.  If you prefer to dial in using your phone(877) 309-2073, access code: 234-284-789.

From the Director, June 2019

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Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

For more than 30 years, I have been blessed to work with compassionate and driven individuals and communities that care about housing. I’ve learned that when people have a home they can come to every night, they have the foundation to provide for their family, to live independently, and to be able to enjoy each phase we all experience as we grow older.

While agency, state and federal programs have evolved over time, NDHFA’s mission to create affordable housing has always been the driving force throughout my tenure as executive director.  I must give credit to outstanding advisory board members and the Industrial Commission for believing in the agency’s mission and trusting the decisions made by our staff.

While I will miss the people that I have worked with over the past decades, I’m truly excited to retire. Spending more time with my grandchildren, children, parents and friends in addition to being in my garden and volunteering will fill my days. I also know the agency will continue to thrive with the experience and dedication of more than 40 talented staff.

My staff tells me I must have a party, so I am inviting you to come if you can to the agency on June 26 from 3:00 to 5:00 pm. I also want to congratulate Beyond Shelter, Inc. on their 20th anniversary and the Lewis and Clark Development Group on their 50th anniversary, which will both have celebrations on June 27th. It’s good for all of us in the housing industry to celebrate our successes and the partnerships that have benefited so many people.

As I look back on my career, I hope that I, with the support of the full NDHFA team, was able to make a positive impact on people’s lives creating more than housing, but a place to call home.

Executive Director to Retire After 34 Years of Service

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) Executive Director Jolene Kline will retire on July 1st.  To honor her 34 years of service, the agency will host an Open House on Wednesday, June 26, from 3 to 5 p.m. at its Bismarck office, 2624 Vermont Ave.

Kline Legacy

A genuine advocate of affordable housing for all North Dakotans, Kline championed numerous state and federal initiatives, bolstering diversified housing options. During her tenure as executive director, NDHFA became the go-to for housing across the state through expanded programming and collaborative partnerships.

For 30 years the agency was primarily known for making homeownership affordable despite having the ability to finance multifamily loans and taking on management of the Section 8 Housing Assistance Program (HAP) a full year before it issued its first single-family program bonds. Expanding the housing focus exemplified NDHFA as a mission-driven agency.

From the Beginning

“When I started a job at NDHFA, I never imagined it would be my career.  The opportunities, the challenges and the successes made the years fly by,” said Kline.

Former NDHFA Executive Director Mike Anderson presents Kline with a 25 year service award.

Kline began working at NDHFA in 1985 as an eligibility technician for HAP. She moved up a couple years later, working in Section 8 Contract Administration as a program specialist. In 1990, she became the agency’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) program administrator.

The federal LIHTC program is the largest producer of affordable housing for low-income households both nationally and in North Dakota. Since the program began in 1986, NDHFA has allocated $58 million in tax credits resulting in the production or rehabilitation of more than 8,200 rental units in 61 communities statewide. The private capital investment in North Dakota is valued at over $500 million.

On the LIHTC program’s 25th anniversary, Kline was recognized by the National Equity Fund and the National Council of State Housing Agencies for her years of successful program administration.

Agency Expansion

When the agency’s planning and housing development division was formed in 2006, Kline, by now an expert in affordable multifamily development, was selected as the first director and was charged with carrying out a strategy to address the state’s housing challenges.

She developed programs and employed innovative ideas to address workforce and senior housing shortages and the rehab of the state’s existing housing stock while providing technical assistance to communities struggling to address their housing needs.

In early 2009, the agency released a report that illustrated a rapidly growing housing affordability gap in North Dakota. Median home values in the state had increased more than 20 percent from 2005 to 2007, while household income had only grown 6.6 percent. Most households had an income that allowed them to rent, but it was increasingly difficult for lower-income individuals and families to afford housing in urban and energy-impacted areas.

Kline testifies at a legislative hearing.

Citing the need for adequate housing to build a quality workforce and retain population NDHFA’s planning division, led by Kline, launched a Rural Housing Investment Incentive Pilot Program (RHIIPP). The program supported housing development or substantial rehab in difficult to develop areas by offering a dollar for dollar match for private sector investment. NDHFA utilized $400,000 of its own reserve funds for the program. It was deemed a resounding success, leveraging more than $6.6 million in housing activity in rural communities.

During the 62nd Legislative Assembly, lawmakers wanted to replicate the success of the agency’s pilot program on a larger scale resulting in the creation of the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF). The agency was authorized to accept taxpayer contributions to the fund up to $15 million with the money used to assist in the development of affordable multi-family housing. One year after the session ended, NDHFA marked the completion of the first HIF funded project, the Divide Vista Apartments in Crosby, ND.

Shortly after the first HIF project was completed, a Statewide Housing Needs Assessment released by North Dakota State University’s Center for Social Research projected significant population growth and increased demand for housing across North Dakota through 2025. Community leaders, housing experts, industry representatives, and local and state lawmakers rallied to create more housing options as the state’s population grew exponentially.

Appointment as Executive Director

The North Dakota Industrial Commission, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, Gov. Jack Dalrymple and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, appointed Kline as NDHFA’s executive director in Dec. 2013.

Following the retirement of NDHFA Executive Director Mike Anderson in June 2013, the North Dakota Industrial Commission appointed Kline as the acting executive director. Six months later, citing her outstanding affordable housing advocacy, the commission made the appointment permanent. As the organization’s lead, Kline now would oversee 43 employees and more than $800 million in assets.

Kline’s first success as executive director was realized a month after her appointment. During the preceding legislative session, NDHFA received an allocation of $15.4 million from the general fund and was authorized to capitalize $20 million in state income tax credits for HIF. The relationships Kline had forged resulted in the program being fully funded in less than half the authorized period of time, allowing the agency to begin investing the funds much sooner than expected into the affordable housing units the state desperately needed.

From 2011 to 2018, HIF provided $89.8 million in gap financing to build and rehabilitate more than 2,500 rental units across North Dakota. The total development costs exceeding $443 million.

“The projects HIF supported address behavioral health and criminal justice issues while ensuring North Dakota’s aging and disabled households and lower-wage workers have safe and affordable housing,” said Kline. “By providing our most vulnerable state residents with a home, we reduce the overall burden placed on our communities and state.”

HIF was recognized for its merit winning a 2013 Award for Program Excellence from the National Council of State Housing Agencies.

HIF has been hailed for its ability to address changing housing market demands in both urban and rural communities, strong community buy-in, cost-effectiveness and the ability to target the state’s greatest needs. The program was recognized in 2013 for its merit by the National Council of State Housing Agencies and in 2014 for its compellingly innovative approach by the Urban Land Institute.

The success brought recognition to Kline as well. In 2016, PRAIRIE BUSINESS MAGAZINE featured her as one of the region’s “Top 25 Women in Business.” She was also asked to present locally and nationally on HIF; the program has become a model for affordable housing development in states and communities across the country.

NDHFA’s Changing Role

What wasn’t openly discussed but became more and more obvious with each HIF project completed was that the program had community leaders, lenders and service providers looking at NDHFA with new eyes. If the state agency could bring more affordable multifamily housing to the table, what other roles could it play in addressing the state’s single-family housing challenges.

The agency’s North Dakota Roots program, once limited to new and returning households, loosened its eligibility restrictions, now available to any household earning up to 140 percent of Area Median Income. The change has provided hundreds of state residents struggling to achieve homeownership with access to NDHFA’s affordable interest rate loans and down payment and closing cost assistance.

Park South Apartments, the City of Minot’s first affordable housing rehabilitation project supported by the National Disaster Resilience Program, is complete.

Population growth and a thriving economy intensified resources needed for vulnerable populations. NDHFA took on the administration of the National Housing Trust Fund which provided the agency with revenue to support the development of housing for extremely low-income households including homeless individuals and families. Around this time, the agency also was approached by the City of Minot for help administering the affordable housing portion of its National Disaster Resilience Program after the city survived devastating flooding.

Persons experiencing recidivism was taking a toll on state resources in addition to individuals and families. A new relationship with the state’s Dept. of Human Services led NDHFA to establish a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund, providing households with a rental barrier, poor credit, prior rental history or a criminal conviction, the opportunity to access housing. Ensuring housing stability is vital to future independence.

In Kline’s last year as executive director, three more milestones were reached. In 2018, the homeownership division had a record-breaking year, purchasing 1,798 FirstHome loans with a total value of more than $300 million, and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s National Servicing Center ranked NDHFA as a Tier 1 Federal Housing Administration loan. During the 66th Legislative Assembly, after going a full biennium without funding, a $7.5 million general fund appropriation was made to HIF and development restrictions were lessened providing the program with greater flexibility.

Kline’s six-year tenure as NDHFA’s executive director has changed the public, agency partners and community leaders’ perceptions of what the state’s Housing Finance Agency could and should be.

“As I officially end this chapter of my life and my time here NDHFA,” said Kline. “I hope that I, alongside the NDHFA team, was successful in making a positive difference in someone’s life every day.”

Hearing Scheduled for Housing Incentive Fund Plan

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) will hold a Public Hearing on June 18, 2019, for the Housing Incentive Fund’s (HIF) proposed 2019 Allocation Plan. The Plan sets forth the procedures and criteria that NDHFA will adhere to as the program administrator.

HIF supports the development of affordable rental housing for low- to moderate-wage workers, the state’s aging population, individuals with disabilities, and persons at risk of homelessness.

The hearing will begin at 10 a.m., CT, in the boardroom at NDHFA’s office, 2624 Vermont Ave., Bismarck, ND. The proposed plan is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

The public may submit either written or oral comments at the hearing. Persons who are unable to attend may submit written comments to hfainfo@nd.gov or NDHFA, PO Box 1535, Bismarck, ND 58502-1535, by 5:00 p.m., CT, on June 17, 2019.

Persons needing accommodation or assistance to attend the hearing should contact NDHFA’s Planning and Housing Development division director at (800) 292-8621, (800) 366-6888 (TTY) or email hfainfo@nd.gov.

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