Category Archives: Press Releases

Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals is Complete

GRAND FORKS, ND – Ten years after the need was first identified in the City of Grand Forks’ plan to end long-term homelessness, local and state officials celebrated the successful completion of LaGrave on First. The Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project will house 42 individuals who experienced chronic homelessness. The approach employed at the property is known as ‘Housing First’ where tenants are rapidly housed and then offered services to address the issues that are the cause of their homelessness.

“LaGrave on First is unique in that it pairs permanent, affordable housing and supportive services in the same building,” said Terry Hanson, Grand Forks Housing Authority (GFHA) executive director. “By having services on-site, we are able to immediately address the physical and mental health, substance abuse, education or job training needs of these individuals.”

Grand Forks Homes Inc. (GFHI), the property owner, is a non-profit organization dedicated to providing affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families. GFHA is the developer and will manage the property. The housing authority will leverage project-based Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure affordability for the extremely low-income households that will reside at LaGrave on First.

GFHA partnered with Beyond Shelter Inc. to develop LaGrave on First. They patterned it after Cooper House, which opened in 2010 in Fargo, N.D., and was the state’s first PSH project for individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness. Through the Region IV Supportive Housing Collaborative, local service providers advocated for the development of a similar property in Grand Forks.

The City of Grand Forks donated the land on which LaGrave on First was constructed, a former city park, and $335,000 in HOME funds. The project is named in honor of Royce LaGrave, the city’s community development and housing authority executive director from 1966-83. LaGrave was known for his resourcefulness and ability to bring about change.

Ninety percent of LaGrave on First’s development costs were covered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA). The state agency awarded federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits to the project that were syndicated by U.S. Bank Community Development Corporation providing almost $7 million in equity. NDHFA also awarded $772,514 from the National Housing Trust Fund. The total project cost is $8.76 million.

“NDHFA prioritized the use of our limited development resources to address the state’s need for community-based permanent supportive housing to end chronic homelessness,” said Jolene Kline, the agency’s executive director. “While it’s easy for us to talk about what is needed, it’s much harder to achieve success especially when developing housing for individuals with complex needs. These project partners truly need to be commended for the housing and level of services they put together.”

Additional project financing was provided by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Des Moines, $500,000 from its Affordable Housing Program; a $150,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust; and the Turtle Mountain Housing Authority contributed $10,000.

Altru, Community Options, Northeast Human Service Center, Prairie Harvest Mental Health, Success Unlimited, and Valley Community Health Centers have agreed to provide supportive and medical services at the site.

A four-story building, LaGrave on First is located at 500 1st Avenue South. Administrative offices, an exam room, exercise room, computer room, commercial kitchen and dining room, lounge space, and a laundry room are on the first floor. The 42 one-bedroom/bath apartments are on the upper floors.

Because most of LaGrave on First’s tenants are expected to arrive with minimal personal items, GFHI and GFHA have been working with area churches to outfit the apartments with the necessities needed for daily living – dinnerware, towels, bedding and personal care items.

“Community members can help us make a positive impact in the lives of LaGrave on First’s tenants by supporting our Adopt-a-Unit program,” said Emily Contreras, executive administrator at GFHA. “Contributions can be made via a GoFundMe account, https://www.gofundme.com/lagraveonfirst, or by dropping off donations at the GFHA’s office, 1405 1st Ave N.”

The most recent count of the homeless population put the number of chronically homeless individuals in the Grand Forks area at 62. Due to their instability, such individuals are frequent users of emergency services which can cost the community $30,000 to $50,000 per year per individual. Providing immediate access to housing is expected to save the local community up to 40 percent of the total cost of these individuals experiencing chronic homelessness.
GFHA expects to begin moving tenants into the property this month.

Grand Forks Homes, Inc. is a local non-profit formed in 1971 for the purpose of developing and owning affordable housing for low- and moderate-income families in and around the Grand Forks, N.D. Members of the board of directors are from eight local churches and a tenant of the properties, all administrative functions are performed by its property manager Grand Forks Housing Authority.

Grand Forks Housing Authority is dedicated to providing safe, decent, affordable housing to the residents of Grand Forks County through federal housing choice vouchers and project-based rental assistance.

A nonprofit developer of affordable housing, Beyond Shelter Inc. has partnered with like-minded organizations to develop 1,037 affordable residential units in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota.

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency 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.

Construction Loan Guarantee Program Regulations Updated

BISMARCK, ND – Rural communities struggling to meet the demand for affordable single-family housing are expected to benefit from an update to North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s Construction Loan Guarantee program regulations.

CLGAug18NDHFA’s Construction Loan Guarantee program can now provide up to $500,000 per community or per contractor. Prior to the change, the program limited the number of loans guaranteed to no more than three per contractor and five per community.

“The change allows the lender to work with the builder to determine the balance between construction costs and local demand, taking advantage, when possible, of the economies of scale that comes with building multiple homes in one location at one time,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA’s executive director. “This approach may reduce the overall cost of construction and, in turn, the sale price of the homes.”

NDHFA provides guarantees to lenders for contractors who build or rehab affordable single-family housing on a speculative basis in communities with populations of less than 35,000. Evidence of local support and need for the housing is required to receive a guarantee. The anticipated sale price of the homes must not exceed the Federal Home Administration’s current mortgage limits

“Our goal is to create more affordable purchase opportunities in our growing communities,” said Kline.

More information about NDHFA’s Construction Loan Guarantee program, the program guide and application are available online at www.ndhfa.org or calling (800) 292-8621.

The application deadline for the updated guarantee amount is Aug. 31. Awardees will be chosen based on their ability to efficiently leverage the program. After Sept. 1, awards will be made on a first-come first-served basis until all of the funds have been committed. Currently $1 million is available and while the maximum award is $500,000, there is no minimum award limit.

Agency Reports Record Breaking Loan Production

NDHFA-LogoBISMARCK, ND – First-time buyers pushed North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) homeownership program to a record-breaking level this spring.

“NDHFA’s FirstHome™ loan reservations total in May was 185 percent higher than last year,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. The state agency’s program provides first-time home buyers with low-cost financing and, if desired, down payment and closing cost assistance.

The agency received 262 loan reservations in May for $44 million in financing, the highest non-special event month on record. During the same time period in 2017, NDHFA recorded 141 reservations. The agency’s staff attributes some of the demand to the interest rates it is currently offering.

“With conventional financing at 4.25 percent and NDHFA at 3.75 percent, the payment on a $200,000 loan is about $60 less per month,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

The greatest uptick in program activity is in Grand Forks County, almost double last year’s. In Williams County, where a limited number of entry-level homes are reportedly available, NDHFA’s loan production is down 25 percent. The greatest overall program use, as is the norm, is in Cass and Burleigh/Morton counties.

Private-sector lenders originate loans on NDHFA’s behalf and sell them to the agency when the loans are closed. Year-to-date, the average loan purchased by the agency is just under $167,000.

The limit for single-family homes purchased is $271,164 to $303,882, depending on household size and the county in which the property is located.

NDHFA’s program is available to state residents earning up to $98,900 who have not owned a home in the last three years. In 2017, the average borrower’s household income was $56,000.
Sixty percent of NDHFA’s borrowers use the down payment and closing cost assistance offered.

“The purchase assistance allows these buyers to enter the market sooner and to keep their funds for household expenses like a lawnmower, furniture and paint for their new house,” said Flohr.

“Homeownership rates in North Dakota declined during the energy boom with many incoming households choosing to rent,” said Kline. “If our purchase activity is indicative of more households becoming homeowners, that is a good thing for North Dakota because homeowners are more invested in their community.” In 2010, the U.S. Department of Census reported that 65.4 percent of North Dakotans owned a home. It is now estimated at 63.5 percent.

A 1997 federal disaster declaration allowed NDHFA to provide purchase assistance to households impacted by flooding including those who had previously owned a home and those whose income exceeded normal program limits. That special event resulted in 280 loans in March 1998 and 268 in Sept. 1997.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA’s homeownership programs is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

Homeownership Program Eligibility Limits Increased

NDHFA-LogoBISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved an increase in the eligibility limits for state programs that assist with home purchases. Administered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA), the programs help North Dakotans, typically first-time buyers, buy a home by providing low-cost financing, and down payment and closing cost assistance.

“With these increases we hope that more North Dakotans will be able to purchase a home,” said commission members in a joint statement. “The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has already helped 42,000 individuals and families become homeowners by providing more than $3 billion in financing since 1982.” The Industrial Commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA.

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 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.

“During the first quarter of 2018 North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s FirstHome program saw a 47 percent increase in program activity over the same period in 2017,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “If the trend continues, 2018 will be busy for our Homeownership Division.”

In 2017, NDHFA assisted 1,076 first-time homebuyers through its FirstHome program. The average borrower’s household income was $57,573 and the average loan amount was $162,643.

The income and acquisition cost limits for NDHFA’s programs are regulated by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and the Internal Revenue Service respectively. The updated limits are effective for loan reservations dated on or after May 1, 2018.

Through HomeAccess, special needs households who may have previously owned a home may receive the same purchase assistance as first-time buyers. NDHFA’s North Dakota Roots program provides purchase assistance to moderate-income buyers who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds the FirstHome program limits.

Private-sector lenders originate the mortgage loans on NDHFA’s behalf and sell them to the agency when the loans are closed. Parties interested in learning more about the programs will find information online at http://www.ndhfa.org.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans.

Agency Recognizes Affordable Housing Champions

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency recognized its outstanding partners as Champions of Affordable Housing at the Statewide Housing Conference.

“The Champions Awards recognize and celebrate the work of individuals, non-profit organizations, public agencies, and private sector businesses who go above and beyond to provide affordable housing for North Dakotans.” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

Through NDHFA’s homeownership programs individuals and families, which are typically first-time buyers, receive low-cost financing, and down payment and closing cost assistance.

Four financial institutions and a loan officer from each business were recognized for originating loans on behalf of NDHFA. Blackridge Bank and Doug Wentz of Bismarck; Bremer Bank and Renae Meisch of Wahpeton; Choice Financial and Lindsey Matter of Bismarck; and First Community Credit Union and Tanya Nenow of Jamestown received awards.

NDHFA recognized four real estate agents, Aruna Hagen of Fargo, Kristy Sagaser of Jamestown, and Paige Danner and ‘Stasia Mitzel of Bismarck, for the assistance they provided to NDHFA’s borrowers.

The agency also administers rental programs and supports the development of multifamily housing for low-income families, seniors, and individuals with disabilities. Sister Rebecca Metzger of Grand Forks received NDHFA’s Property Management Award for her compassionate management of St. Anne’s Guest Home, a subsidized housing project that is home to 30 elderly households of limited means.

The agency’s Housing Production Award was presented to the Grand Forks Community Land Trust, which creates and maintains a permanent supply of affordably priced, owner-occupied and rental housing, and assists households that purchase homes to become successful owners.

Leadership Award winners were Gerald Eid and Lynn Fundingsland. Gerald, a Fargo-area builder who served as the chair of NDHFA’s advisory board for 15 years, was instrumental in the development of the agency’s down payment and closing cost assistance programs. Lynn is the outgoing executive director of the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority who employed innovative approaches to provide for and to improve the housing conditions of the lowest-income households in the community and throughout the region.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA is dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. For more information on the awards or the agency’s programs, contact (800) 292-8621 or www.ndhfa.org.

Grants Support Safe Housing for Lower-Income Households

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Industrial Commission voted today to allocate $200,000 through Helping Housing Across North Dakota (Helping HAND), a state program that aids organizations that provide home construction and rehab assistance to lower-income North Dakotans. The program is administered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA).

“The grants provided through Helping HAND program typically support weatherization and rehabilitation programs ensuring North Dakotans of modest means have a safe and comfortable place to call home,” said commission members in a joint statement. The Industrial Commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA.

The 2018 funds will be distributed as follows:

  • Southeastern ND Community Action Agency, Fargo, $56,700.
  • Red River Valley Community Action, Grand Forks, $30,595.
  • Community Action Partnership, Minot, $24,389.
  • Community Action Partnership, Dickinson/Williston, $19,851.
  • Dakota Prairie Community Action Agency, Devils Lake, $21,924.
  • Community Action Region VI, Jamestown, $15,442.
  • Trenton Indian Service Area, Trenton, $7,333.
  • Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Belcourt, $7,333.
  • Spirit Lake Tribal Housing, Fort Totten, $7,333.
  • Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, Fargo, $4,000.
  • Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity, Grand Forks, $3,500.
  • Rebuilding Together, Fargo, $800.
  • Rebuilding Together, Mandan, $800.

Grant recipients must provide a local match of 25 percent to access the program dollars.

“Through Helping HAND, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has allocated over $5 million of agency earnings to non-profit organizations assisting more than 5,000 lower-income households statewide,” said Jolene Kline, the agency’s executive director.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. More information on the agency and the affordable housing programs it administers is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

Ver Helst Joins Housing Finance Agency

KaylaVerHelstBISMARCK – Kayla Ver Helst has joined the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency as director of public affairs.

“I am pleased to welcome Kayla to our management team. I believe she will be a great advocate for our work in communicating North Dakota’s affordable housing needs,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

Ver Helst will oversee the agency’s communications, marketing and public affairs program including strategies for positioning the agency in the housing industry and accomplishing federal and state policy goals.

“I look forward to working with the state’s elected officials, community leaders and the agency’s housing partners to ensure all North Dakotans have a safe and affordable place to call home,” Ver Helst said.

Prior to coming to the NDHFA, Ver Helst worked in business operations at the North Dakota Department of Transportation. She replaces Max Wetz, who resigned his position to return to his home state of South Dakota.

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