Category Archives: Press Releases

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.

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.

Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals Underway

BISMARCK, ND – Construction has begun on Edwinton Place, a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project that will offer stable housing and support services for 40 individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the Bismarck area. The approach that will be utilized is called ‘Housing First’.

Edwinton Place

Edwinton Place, a Permanent Supportive Housing project, will provide stable housing and support services for 40 individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the Bismarck area.

“Through the Housing First model, some of the barriers to rental housing entry are set aside. The individual is provided with a permanent, stable home and then support services are offered to address the underlying causes of their homelessness,” said Dwight Barden, Burleigh County Housing Authority (BCHA) executive director.

Chronically homeless individuals typically have mental health or substance abuse issues, a chronic health condition, or a history of physical or sexual abuse. The need to provide supportive housing for these individuals was first discussed in 2008 in Bismarck-Mandan’s 10-Year Plan to End Homeless. Since that time, local service providers have been planning and educating key stakeholders to gain support for a PSH development. As an experienced provider of affordable housing, BCHA agreed to take the lead and be the owner and manager of the property.

BCHA has partnered with Beyond Shelter Inc. (BSI), a nonprofit developer of affordable housing to develop Edwinton Place. “Beyond Shelter focuses on providing housing for the lowest income households in a community, the people whose needs are typically overlooked,” said BSI CEO Dan Madler. “The underlying causes of chronic homeless not only negatively affects an individual’s ability to be successful in traditional rental housing, these issues are also very costly to the community.”

Chronically homeless individuals are frequent users of emergency services which can cost a community $30,000 to $50,000 per year per individual. Providing these individuals with immediate access to housing is estimated to save a community up to 40 percent of the total cost of experiencing chronic homelessness.

“North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has prioritized the use of our development resources, focusing on permanent supportive housing to help address chronic homelessness in North Dakota,” said Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) executive director.

Funding commitments provided by NDHFA will cover the majority of Edwinton Place’s development costs. The state agency awarded federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will provide the project with $7.2 million in equity, and awarded $1,026,147 from the National Housing Trust Fund, $500,000 from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund and $460,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization III Program. The total project cost is $10.3 million.

Edwinton Place also received support from the City of Bismarck, in agreement with Burleigh County and the Bismarck Public School District, a 20-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes for the property valued at more than $2 million. The North Dakota Department of Commerce committed $730,000 through the Neighborhood Stabilization I Program for land acquisition. Through Bank of North Dakota, the Federal Home Loan Bank awarded $750,000 from the Affordable Housing Program, and the Otto Bremer Trust committed $62,000 to help cover pre-development costs. The project’s construction financing will be provided by Gate City Bank.

Edwinton Place is being built on an infill lot just south of Bismarck Expressway and is within an Opportunity Zone designated by Gov. Burgum earlier this year. The four-story building will have a controlled entrance with 24/7 staffing. On the first floor, offices, meeting rooms and an exam room will allow for services to be provided at the site. The upper floors will be made up of 40 one-bedroom/one-bath apartments. Eight of the units will be fully accessible for persons with a physical disability. All of the units will be furnished. The developers anticipate that the property will be complete by next fall.

The tenants will be selected in partnership with the local Coordinated Entry System which is operated by agencies that provide service to people who are homeless. Project-Based Housing Choice Vouchers will be provided by BCHA to assure the affordability of the units for the extremely low-income tenants.

Minot’s First NDR-Supported Housing Project Complete

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Local and state officials celebrate the completion of Minot’s first National Disaster Resilience-supported affordable housing rehabilitation project.

MINOT, ND – Park South Apartments, the City of Minot’s first affordable housing rehabilitation project supported by the National Disaster Resilience (NDR) Program, is complete. Local and state officials celebrated the project’s completion with a ribbon cutting on Tuesday, Aug. 21.

The apartment building is one of the first projects in the country completed between the recipients of the 13 NDR grants provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) program.

“We’re proud that Minot continues to be an example for how the NDR Program is expected to help communities,” said Mayor Shaun Sipma. “This project was a great first step for what we want to do as a city with HUD using NDR, and it’s a great illustration of what all three levels of government working together can accomplish with the private sector.”

The City of Minot received a $74.3 million HUD grant through the NDR program, $21 million is designated for affordable multifamily housing. It awarded $1.97 million to Essential Living Inc., the non-profit owner of Park South, to renovate the building’s 35 existing apartments and add five new units. Seventy-five percent of Park South’s apartments are now reserved for income-qualified households, four of these units are fully handicapped accessible.

“The project completion on a timely basis fulfills a critical commitment the city made in 2016 when HUD approved the NDR Action Plan,” said Disaster Resilience Program Manager John Zakian. “Park South’s completion is a milestone for the City of Minot in carrying out the goal of fulfilling unmet housing needs in the community.”

Essential Living also received $2.23 million from North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) through the Housing Incentive Fund. The state’s program supports the development and preservation of affordable multifamily rental housing targeted to low- to moderate-income households and essential service workers.

“The assistance North Dakota Housing Finance Agency provided through the Housing Incentive Fund extended the affordability of these homes, and ensures that the individuals and families that live at Park South have a place to live that is both safe and desirable,” said NDHFA Executive Director Jolene Kline.

The project received additional support through the North Dakota Department of Commerce, $714,950 from the Governor’s Community Development Block Grant Discretionary Funds for the stormwater management work that benefitted the whole neighborhood; and an interest-rate buy down from Bank of North Dakota’s FlexPACE program. The total project cost exceeded $7.4 million.

“Minot was extremely fortunate to receive the NDR Funds, and we are pleased that this project really demonstrates how the private sector can work with the public sector to provide affordable housing for our community,” said Essential Living President Bruce Walker. “Working with the City of Minot, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, and our other project partners has been a very positive experience.”

Located at 234 14th Ave SE, Park South was constructed in 1948 and originally served as a convent. It was converted into apartments in the 1980s with the last major renovation taking place at that time. Essential Living updated all of the existing units’ kitchens and bathrooms, plumbing, electrical, hardware and flooring.

The building’s common areas were also renovated, asbestos was abated, the original coal burning boiler was replaced, and a new entrance, air conditioning and an elevator were added.

Many of Park South’s tenants lived at the property prior to the renovation. The developer phased construction so that those households would not be displaced during the renovation. Currently, 22 of the building’s 40 apartments are rented. Individuals who would like to learn more about Park South can contact the property manager, 1st Minot Management, at (701) 839-7505. Information is also available online, http://www.essentiallivingminot.com.

Essential Living plans to construct affordable patio homes on the five acres that adjoins Park South. If they are able to secure the financing needed, Walker anticipates starting that project next year.

The City of Minot is focused on providing essential services to North Central North Dakota. The City’s National Disaster Resilience Program is an initiative to help the community recover and grow more resilient for the future. The program is possible with the help of $74 million awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development and over $1 million in community-leverage funds.

Essential Living is a non-profit entity focused on creating affordable and sustainable housing opportunities in Ward County. Our goal is to provide affordable housing options that can help improve the quality of life for individuals and families in the community.

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

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 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.