Category Archives: Partner

YWCA Hosts Grand Opening of Grace Garden

$7.1 million supportive residence readies for domestic violence survivors

WEST FARGO, ND – YWCA Cass Clay unveiled a new $7.1 million permanent supportive residence called Grace Garden today with the help of their collaborative partners, dignitaries and guests. The national CEO of YWCA USA travelled from Washington, DC for the event.

Grace Garden is located at 1480 E. 16th St. in West Fargo, ND. It has 30 apartments that will be fully furnished for the approximate 75 individuals and families who will move in by the year’s end. In addition to safe, secure housing, YWCA will offer case management and services at the site to support these individuals and families who’ve experienced violence and homelessness. Residents will have access to nursing care, an employment coach and other mentors to grow life skills. They’ll live close to schools, job opportunities and transportation routes. YWCA’s 29 years of experience in providing supportive housing has proven that these supports are key to success.

“The structure is complete. The rebuilding of lives begins. Here, individuals and their families will be empowered to reach a state of stability and live free of fear,” said Erin Prochnow, CEO, YWCA Cass Clay.

Grace Garden sits footsteps away from the office where a pastor’s servant heart set things in motion in 2016. Pastor Joel Baranko of Lutheran Church of the Cross approached Prochnow inquiring about unmet community needs and how the congregation could be helpful. She identified affordable housing as a crucial need and the conversation turned into action.

“I approached the conversation assuming more emergency shelter space would be the answer to how the YWCA might utilize additional property if made available. I quickly learned the value of permanent supportive housing. It was easy for the congregation to get behind the vision because of the YWCA’s history, leadership, and reputation for success in serving women and children,” said Pastor Baranko. “Together, we are changing people’s lives for the better not only today, but for generations to come.”

For many years, applications to YWCA Supportive Housing far outstripped the number of units available. Last year alone, 162 women and children applied for the program and only 22 were able to gain homes.

“In 2015, YWCA set an ambitious goal to double the number of homes through YWCA Housing within five years to address the lack of supportive housing,” said Prochnow, “With the addition of Grace Garden, we have exceeded our goal. Expanding to 70 supportive housing units is growth of about 270 percent in four years.”

The new housing is called “permanent” because it doesn’t impose a deadline for moving out. It allows residents time to gain stability only after resolving complete financial ruin by abusers or navigating single parenthood as the sole family income provider. For some, the timeline is lengthy and challenging, and having the permanent housing means vital stability so children can grow and learn in a safe and healthy environment while adults can pursue their life goals.

For the first time in the agency’s 113-year service to the region, its national association leader, Alejandra Y. Castillo, CEO of YWCA USA, was on hand to help celebrate the local organization’s milestone achievement.

“YWCA is one of the first and largest networks in the nation and world, serving more than

2 million women, girls and their families every year at over 200 local associations. As the largest network of domestic violence service providers in the country, we have a long history of providing services to survivors of violence from all walks of life.” said Castillo, “I am honored to be in North Dakota to celebrate our continued social impact and growth in our collective power with the dedication of Grace Garden.”

“Facilities like Grace Garden offer stability and safety, giving women facing poverty and homelessness an opportunity to build a secure future for themselves and their children,” said Senator John Hoeven. “Moreover, this residence, which provides access to both permanent housing and supportive services, is a testament to what can be accomplished when partnering federal and state agencies, and then leveraging that public investment to secure support from the private sector. We appreciate the hard work of the YWCA staff and everyone involved in making this project a reality, and we will continue working to advance similar efforts to help ensure access to affordable housing and a higher quality of life throughout our state.”

Multiple community partners joined in the planning, funding, and building of the residence. Gate City Bank pledged the largest single investment in YWCA Cass Clay history, $1.5 million to provide startup costs and the first 10 years of supportive staff services at Grace Garden.

“When we announced our commitment to the Grace Garden project in 2017, we were excited to build upon our long-standing partnership with the YWCA. Two years later, it’s humbling to see the project come to life. We are proud to see our gift provide the resources needed to help women and their children on their journey to a better life,” said Steve Swiontek, Executive Chair of Gate City Bank. “At Gate City Bank, we believe that it is our responsibility to make a difference in our community, For a Better Way of Life.® We accomplish this by investing in our customers, team members and communities. The Grace Garden Housing Project supports this mission through a proven program of education and employment coaching, health services and the support of YWCA advocates.”

Grace Garden was funded in a large part through programs administered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA). The state agency awarded development assistance to the residence through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, $672,500 in credit authority that brought $6 million in equity to the project, National Housing Trust Fund, $325,549, and the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, $500,000.

“Addressing North Dakota’s need for community-based permanent supportive housing is a development priority for North Dakota Housing Finance Agency,” said Jennifer Henderson, NDHFA’s Planning and Housing Development Division Director. “Projects like Grace Garden provide the women who are working to rebuild their lives with a long-term home that is both safe and affordable.”

The North Dakota Department of Commerce is supporting the land acquisition for Grace Garden through the Governor’s Community Development Block Grant Funds.

“Commerce is proud to partner with the YWCA Cass Clay on this permanent supportive housing project, aiming to address long-term homelessness, coupled with supportive services and demonstrated local support. Projects like Grace Garden are vital to our community and the individuals and families to which they serve” said Shantel Dewald, Division of Community Services Program Manager, North Dakota Department of Commerce.

Thanks to the financial support the project received, YWCA did not need to conduct a capital campaign to build Grace Garden. YWCA fundraised and organized a “Plant a Seed” campaign for household goods from toasters to towels to start families toward healthy futures.

The residence will receive rental assistance from the Housing Authority of Cass County through a $2.2 million, 15-year contract that provides 30 Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure every apartment will be affordable to the families who will call them home. Individuals and families will be asked to pay up to 30 percent of their income towards rent.

Grace Garden’s residents will come primarily from the YWCA emergency shelter and other referring agencies in the community. There are already 23 applications in process.

Construction on the two-story building began last summer and was complete in August 2019. The property will include one-to-four-bedroom apartments, a fitness room, community spaces for classes and gatherings, and a playground. Main floor offices will be home base for YWCA advocates, nursing and other professional resources coming onsite.

“Grace Garden is symbolic of an innovative and progressive movement to address homelessness. It is an investment in our community that will keep domestic violence survivors from resorting to returning to their abusers and solving a multitude of other challenges that accrue during crisis,” said Prochnow.

Government and organizations like YWCA invest in rent subsidies and low-cost housing so people have a place to gain sure footing, rather than making it the reward at the end of a set of steps like finding a job and saving for a deposit. Having access to supportive housing means fewer acute resources and costly emergency services are needed.

About YWCA Cass Clay

YWCA emergency shelter is where victims of domestic violence come day and night, 365 days a year, to escape crisis lives and mend emotionally, physically and spiritually. They receive crucial basics like food and clothing, and resources for education and employment as they navigate toward independence. A caring YWCA team connects women and children to community resources that will further empower them. Besides operating the largest emergency shelter for women and children in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, YWCA Cass Clay operates safe and affordable, short- and long-term supportive housing for low-income women. YWCA offers a food pantry, racial justice advocacy, and a nationally accredited public childcare center, A Child’s World. For more information, visit www.ywcacassclay.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.

YWCA Grace Garden groundbreaking promises critical answer to women and families starting new lives.

 

More photographs from the event are available on NDHFA’s Facebook page.

WEST FARGO, ND – YWCA Cass Clay broke ground today on a new residence, Grace Garden, in West Fargo, ND, that, when it opens in 2019, will reflect a new ideal of how to end homelessness by providing ‘Housing First’.

“Stability is the key to success,” says YWCA CEO Erin Prochnow. “Grace Garden will be a place of safety and sure footing for 30 women and their children seeking a better life. At the residence, families will be able to improve their economic stability and health, breaking the cycles of abuse and poverty for the next generation by being assured of an affordable home and support that’s unique to each family’s goals.”

The new $4.3 million property follows the current mindset in America, one that YWCA Cass Clay has championed for decades.

The Housing First homeless prevention model seeks to get those who are homeless out of crisis and rapidly into safe and affordable housing. From this sure ground, women and children get continuous support and guidance from a YWCA advocate as they work on personal goals for jobs, health, education, parenting and more.

The Grace Garden idea first arose when Pastor Joel Baranko of Lutheran Church of the Cross reached out to the YWCA. Interested developers had offered to purchase the large grassy lot adjacent to the church’s property at 1402 16th St. E. in West Fargo, however the church declined offers that were not consistent with its mission and might have resulted in a less neighborhood-friendly project.

“I began to wonder how God might be calling us to put to good use the property with which we had been entrusted. How can we live and love like Jesus with this land?” recalls Baranko.

The congregation voted to lease the site to YWCA in May of 2018, providing an ideal situation for families served by YWCA because of the close proximity to schools, bus routes, employment and worship opportunities.

Gate City Bank demonstrated their commitment to providing a better way of life by pledging $1.5 million to fund project start-up costs and support services over the first 10 years.

“It’s particularly exciting to fund the staff or human side; the real game-changer to empowering women after they’re safely housed. They get practical life guidance, encouragement and someone to walk alongside them as they courageously work towards life goals they determine. The impact will be great for generations to come,” said Kim Meyer, Gate City Bank Executive Vice President of Retail Banking and Human Resources.

In November 2017, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) awarded development support to the residence through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, $672,500, and National Housing Trust Fund, $325,549, and the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, $500,000.

“Grace Garden is a partnership of caring concern from the nonprofit, business and community sectors,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “We are pleased to be able to provide the public sector support needed to complete this extraordinary project, ensuring women and children transitioning from domestic violence have a safe and affordable place to call home.”

The North Dakota Department of Commerce is supporting the land acquisition for Grace Garden through the Governor’s Community Development Block Grant Discretionary Funds.

“Our goal at Commerce is directly related to family stability and community revitalization,” Adele Sigl with the North Dakota Department of Commerce said. “Everyone deserves a place to call home and this new YWCA Supportive Housing project is a community solution to help eliminate homelessness by providing hope, dignity, and support in the form of permanent supportive housing.”

The residence will also receive rental assistance from the Housing Authority of Cass County. A $2.2 million, 15-year contract provides 30 Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure every apartment will be affordable to the families that will call them home.

Thanks to the financing secured, the YWCA will not need to conduct a capital campaign to build Grace Garden. The YWCA will fundraise and facilitate donation drives for furniture, equipment and supplies to help families and operate the building.

The YWCA first ventured into providing supportive housing in 1989 when donors gifted a Fargo four-plex to the organization. Today, it operates 32 supportive housing units. The addition of Grace Garden will allow the YWCA to far exceed expansion plans that were put in place by the organization’s local governing board in 2015, a five-year goal of 40 supportive apartment spaces by 2020.

In 2017, 314 women and children were eligible for the YWCA’s supportive housing units, but only 60 were able to gain homes through the organization. “Unfortunately, women escaping domestic violence typically do not score high enough on assessments to be rapidly housed,” said Prochnow.

Prospective participants for supportive housing in the Fargo metro area are screened through an assessment tool used universally by shelters in the region. Shelter providers meet weekly to review the risk scores of homeless individuals in the system. Openings in housing programs are outlined and applicant’s risk scores are used to match them with a housing program that fits.

Grace Garden’s residents will come primarily from the YWCA emergency shelter and other referring agencies in the community.

Construction on the two-story building begins this summer and is expected to finish in spring 2019. The property will include one- to four-bedroom apartments and community spaces for classes and gatherings. Main floor offices will be home base for YWCA advocates, nursing and other professional resources coming onsite.

About YWCA Cass Clay
YWCA emergency shelter is where victims of domestic violence come day and night, 365 days a year, to escape crisis lives and mend emotionally, physically and spiritually. They receive crucial basics like food and clothing, and resources for education and employment as they navigate toward independence. A caring YWCA team connects women and children to community resources that will further empower them. Besides operating the largest emergency shelter for women and children in North Dakota and northwestern Minnesota, YWCA Cass Clay operates safe and affordable, short- and long-term supportive housing for low-income women. YWCA offers a food pantry, racial justice advocacy, and a nationally accredited public childcare center, A Child’s World. For more information, visit www.ywcacassclay.org.

Fargo-Moorhead Groundbreaking Celebrates Next Step Toward New Home Opening to 20 Families in 2018

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Jeremiah Program broke ground on its new Fargo-Moorhead campus in early June. The new campus, located at 3104 Fiechtner Drive South in Fargo, will provide safe and affordable housing for 20 determined, low-income families, as well as an on-site early childhood education center, classrooms where the mothers can build confidence and life skills, and spaces where they can meet with coaches to support them in achieving a career-track, college education.

“We have worked hard together to get to this day,” said Diane Solinger, Jeremiah Program Fargo-Moorhead Executive Director. “Many of our community board of trustees and supporters have been with us since the very beginning, even through the peaks and valleys. They have given us unwavering commitment, and together we are building a campus to bring this excitement to life.”

Why is this campus and Jeremiah important to Fargo-Moorhead? Currently, more than 2,300 single mothers are living in poverty in the Fargo-Moorhead area, a number that has increased 16 percent over the last six years. The majority of these mothers have children under the age of four with fewer than half of them enrolled in pre-school.

ChartToday a college degree is needed to move a family out of the poverty level.  Mothers without support systems often drop out of college because they are facing too many more obstacles. Jeremiah gives mothers the support system they need to succeed. The college completion rate for a Jeremiah mother is nearly 70 percent. From a recent survey of alumae from the past five years, women reported an average income of $47,609 and a 77 percent decreased reliance on public assistance.

“This vision was born in Fargo seven years ago. It took a long time to bear this child, but what a child it has born” said Michael J. O’Connell, Jeremiah Program Visionary Founder.

There are many community partners involved in making the campus possible:

  • Catholic Health Initiatives
  • North Dakota Housing Finance Agency
  • Scheels
  • Barry Foundation
  • The Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines Affordable Housing Program
  • Otto Bremer Foundation
  • Roers Foundation
  • Margret A. Cargill Foundation

Although the building won’t be ready for several months, the work toward assisting Fargo-Moorhead families began several years ago with initial empowerment and life skills courses. In May, Jeremiah Fargo- Moorhead graduated mothers from its sixth empowerment training, a prerequisite course for the program. The 12-week course focuses on several concepts including effective conflict management, assertive communication and personal accountability. Once completed, Jeremiah mothers participate in a life-skills class, which emphasizes career development, parenting, personal financial management and health/wellness.

Ribbon Cutting in Mercer County for Workforce Housing

BEULAH, ND, MAY 25, 2017 – A ribbon cutting ceremony for New Energy Apartments, a project bringing affordable workforce housing to Mercer County, will take place Thursday, June 8 at 11am. The property is located at 1400 New Energy Drive.

Lutheran Social Services Housing broke ground for the project in June 2016. Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director was present and commented, “Without affordable housing, it is challenging for a community to recruit and retain workers.” The $3.84 million project received nearly $1.15 million from the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), a state program administered by NDHFA, that ensures the availability of affordable rental housing.

“Lutheran Social Services is proud to be able to provide affordable housing in the community of Beulah,” said John Phillips, real estate development director for Lutheran Social Services Housing, adding “now that the project is complete we have a mix of tenants enjoying the quality of life everyone desires and is affordable for those that have a need.” Support for the project included The Union Bank, Union State Bank, Bank of North Dakota and NDHFA, Beulah’s Job Development Authority, and the City of Beulah who donated the property.

12 of New Energy’s 24 units are designated for essential service workers (ESW) of the community – employees of the city, county and federal government, school district, medical and care centers. Rents in the building range from $355 to $925, depending on household income and unit size, with the majority of rents at $750. Lutheran Social Services Property Management Group manages the project, (701) 630-5510 or (800) 609-8634.

Lutheran Social Services Housing, a program of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, supports the continued vitality of the state’s smaller communities by providing nonprofit affordable housing and housing related services, with more than 30 rental housing projects currently owned and/or under management.

Lutheran Social Services Housing, Inc. is a nonprofit subsidiary of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota providing affordable housing to rural North Dakota communities.

Affordable, Family-Friendly Mandan Townhomes Complete

RibbonMANDAN, ND – Affordable Housing Developers Inc. celebrated the completion of Trails West Townhomes today. The family-friendly development brings a dozen units of affordable rental housing to north Mandan.

“We are very excited to showcase Trails West,” said Andrea Diede, executive director of AHDI, developer and owner of the townhomes. “Interest in the property has been strong and with warmer weather upon us, we anticipate many applications will be coming in over the next couple of weeks.”

To rent one of the townhomes, households must be income qualified. Nine of the units are reserved for tenants earning 80 percent or less than Area Median Income. These two-bedroom units rent for $777 and the three-bedroom units rent for $888.

The three remaining townhomes are reserved for extremely low-income tenants, at or below 30 percent of AMI. A four-person household earning $26,500 or less would be able to rent one of these units for $470.

PartnerSignThe $2.65 million project received support from state and federal government programs to guarantee the affordability. The North Dakota Department of Commerce provided $985,000 through the HOME program and North Dakota Housing Finance Agency allocated $762,000 from the Housing Incentive Fund. AHDI owned the land on which the townhomes were constructed. The balance of the project was financed US Bank.

“The three-bedroom townhomes, in particular, are a welcome addition to the community. Our greatest rental need in Morton County is affordable housing for larger families,” said Rick Horn, executive director of the Morton County Housing Authority.

Located at 4530 30th Ave NW, ten of the Trails West Townhomes are three-bedroom units with one and one-half baths and tuck-under garages. The single-story, end units with attached garages are two-bedroom, one-bath that meet HUD Section 504 accessibility requirements. All of the townhomes are furnished with soft-closing cabinets, kitchen pantries, appliances including dishwashers and in-unit washers/dryers, window coverings, air conditioning and patios.

FrontThe property is within walking distance of Mandan’s newest elementary school, Red Trail. A retail/grocery shopping center, medical services, churches, parks, municipal services and public transportation are all available in the area.

HJL Management Company is the property manager, (701) 663-7494.

A Community Housing Development Organization based in Dickinson, ND, AHDI’s focus is on upgrading or creating rental units in Western North Dakota for elderly and low- to moderate-income individuals and families.

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Federal Funding Awarded to Grand Forks Homes, Inc. for Housing Project 2017

The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has awarded Grand Forks Homes, Inc. $776,667 in credit authority and an additional $772,514 from the Housing Trust Fund for the development of LaGrave on First. The 42-unit, 4-story housing complex will be located at 500 1st Avenue South in downtown, Grand Forks with estimated development costs of $8.5 million.

The Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) is the most important resource for creating affordable housing in the United States today. Created by the Tax Reform Act of 1986, the LIHTC program gives State and local LIHTC-allocating agencies the equivalent of nearly $8 billion in annual budget authority to issue tax credits for the acquisition, rehabilitation, or new construction of rental housing targeted to lower-income households.

The Housing Trust Fund (HTF) is a new affordable housing production program that will complement existing Federal, state and local efforts to increase and preserve the supply of decent, safe, and sanitary affordable housing for extremely low- and very low-income households, including homeless families. The HTF was established under Title I of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008, Section 1131. HTF funds may be used for the production or preservation of affordable housing through the acquisition, new construction, reconstruction, and/or rehabilitation of non-luxury housing with suitable amenities.

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. will be the owner of LaGrave on First, with Grand Forks Housing Authority and Beyond Shelter, Inc. working together as co-developers of the new building. The housing project will serve individuals experiencing chronic homelessness by providing one-bedroom/one-bathroom apartment units and support services on-site. LaGrave on First will utilize evidence-based practices such as Housing First and Permanent Supportive Housing to support a better quality of life for residents in their new home. Units will be made affordable by project-basing Grand Forks Housing Authority vouchers and services will be provided by Valley Community Health Center, Northeast Human Service Center, and other area agencies. Construction is expected to begin early next summer with doors open in the summer of 2018.

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. is a North Dakota 501c3 non-profit corporation formed in 1971 for the purpose of developing and owning affordable housing for low and moderate-income families. Grand Forks Housing Authority serves as the primary provider of affordable housing in Grand Forks County, North Dakota, providing a home for nearly 2,000 families each night through its 1,265 Housing Choice Vouchers and 798 affordable apartment units. Established in 1967, Grand Forks Housing Authority provides affordable housing and programming to encourage self-sufficiency for tenants. Beyond Shelter, Inc. is a Fargo, ND based non-profit developer of affordable housing that has worked in and around the area since 1999 with experience in new construction, acquisition/rehabilitation, and assembling multi-layered financing packages.

A self-supporting state agency, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing across North Dakota. The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the agency.