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From the Director, April 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

The time we are in right now requires difficult decisions and I don’t envy our legislators one bit on the work they had to accomplish over the past four months.

The Legislative Session is over and now we will continue our work to help all North Dakotans have an affordable place to call home. While we had a few issues pop up, this was a relatively quiet session for NDHFA.

We are a special fund agency that doesn’t affect the state’s general fund, but we too were asked to help find efficiencies. We trimmed our budget where we could, but also faced the prospect of not having the flexibility needed to respond to the homeownership needs of the state when two of our staff positions were cut. Thanks to the work of our advocates and legislative champions, those positions were restored and we feel confident that, as our mortgage portfolio grows, we will be able to provide the superior customer service our partners and homeowners expect.

With the Housing Incentive Fund, we have both good news and bad news. The good news is that the expiration date of the program was removed so now we don’t have to come back for reauthorization every legislative session. Also the projects that still are under development won’t lose their funds if they can’t draw them by the end of the biennium.

Unfortunately though, the Legislature didn’t have the funds available to supply anything new for HIF. I know this comes as a disappointment because of the affordable housing challenges our communities continue to face, but we can be heartened that HIF is still in our tool box and we certainly hope that it can be used again in the future to help our communities grow and prosper.

I want to express my deep appreciation to all of our partners who helped talk about NDHFA and the work we do during the Legislative Session. I know there were many who called or wrote their local legislators and several of the industry organizations were diligent in reaching out on our behalf. I hope that illustrates that we aren’t creating top-down government, but instead NDHFA is a partner to our communities big and small across North Dakota.

From the Director, February 2017

JoleneKlineWeb

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Thank you to everyone who was able to make it to the Statewide Housing Conference earlier this month! It was an informational and inspiring event, and I hope the attendees walked away with at least one more tool to do their jobs or live their lives to the greatest extent. I enjoyed getting to visit with many of you and that’s really my favorite part of the conference every year. I learn from each of you and truly value your friendship and partnership.

If you weren’t able to attend, I want to invite you to consider it again next year and help us to make the conference a valuable experience for everyone. We are always looking for input on what sessions and speakers would be of interest to you or any other feedback that would make the conference better. It is your conference and we truly want to know your opinion.

We are now at half-time of the legislative session and are gearing up for quick action on housing issues. Our agency’s budget bill, as approved by the Senate, also includes reauthorization of the Housing Incentive Fund with $5 million in tax credits to capitalize it, as well as the creation of a new homeownership loan fund for essential service workers. There is $500,000 in tax credit authority to capitalize that fund. The hearing for that bill is scheduled for first thing after the cross-over break – 8:30 a.m. on Wednesday, March 1.

This legislative session has been chalk full of tough decisions for lawmakers. With reduced revenues, they haven’t had the luxury to fund everything they want. We feel extremely fortunate that the Senate saw the value of these housing programs, but we still have another half to go and I don’t want to count my chickens before they hatch.

We will continue to monitor and provide the background information legislators need to make the best decisions on housing issues. If you want to follow the legislative process, you can do that by visiting the Legislative Assembly website.

Again, thank you to those who attended the conference and congratulations to our Champions of Affordable Housing! I look forward to seeing you all again next year…if not much sooner.

 

FirstHome Lender Training Coming in April

North Dakolendertraininglinkimageta Housing Finance Agency will host FirstHome™ lender training in Bismarck and Fargo in April.

“The training includes an introduction to our homeownership programs – FirstHome, HomeAccess and North Dakota Roots, a review of the different loan types, borrower and property eligibility discussion, and how to lock a loan,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

New and pending participating lender staff, and current participating lender staff who are interested in a refresher course are all welcome to attend.

The trainings will be held on April 5 at the Comfort Inn, 1030 E Interstate Ave, Bismarck; and April 12 at the Expressway Suites, 4303 17th Ave S, Fargo. Both training sessions will begin at 9:00 a.m. CDT and should be completed no later than 1:00 p.m. There are no registration fees, however pre-registration is required.

Discounted sleeping rooms are available at the Comfort Inn, (701) 223-1911; or Expressway Inn, (701) 239-4303, by asking for the “ND Housing” block. Rate is $80.90 for a single or $100 for a double.

If you have questions about the training, contact Dave Flohr at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov. 

From the Director, November 2016

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Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

The next year will be interesting for affordable housing in North Dakota and across the country. With economic, political and demographic changes all afoot, there are many unknowns.
The recent elections will bring a new president, new governor and many new legislators in North Dakota. Learning more about their policy aims and helping to provide information on housing needs in the state to them is an important task for us. There will be many issues on the table and we need to make sure that housing is not forgotten.

There were some housing champions who retired or were defeated and we will miss working with them, but I am hopeful that we will have good working relationships with all of our policymakers and that a new crop of champions will arise. I thank our past elected officials for their service to our state and congratulate all those who won a seat.

As the Statewide Housing Needs Assessment shows us, the affordable housing needs in North Dakota are real and they are significant. With increases in seniors, low-income households and people with a disability expected in the next 15 years, our work definitely is not done. Having the resources to address those needs could be a challenge. As our latest allocation round for the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program showed us, there just is not enough money to fund all of the good and needed projects that are out there. In the last several years, we can only fund about half of the projects that apply for funds. The Housing Incentive Fund has helped make up that difference and has been a powerful tool. But with the program set to end on June 30, we may not have the ability to create the housing that will be needed for the additional households we expect to see.

While the oil slowdown and changes in the economic condition of the state have created some uncertainty, we have also seen households that have been able to take advantage of the situation (in the best possible way). We have seen increased homebuyer activity across the state, which is very positive. We know that a rental situation isn’t ideal for every family so if some can get into their own home in an affordable way, our communities will benefit. We are proud of the role we can play in helping those families and communities. There are also some households that need affordable rental options so we are proud of how we can help them too.

Where we go in the future is in our hands and I am hopeful that affordable housing will continue to be part of the conversation.

Federal Affordable Housing Development Resources Allocated

NDHFA-LogoBISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency announced today that five projects will receive federal funds to provide affordable housing for individuals and families with special needs.

“By providing housing for our most vulnerable state residents, we strengthen and stabilize our communities,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. The agency administers the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and National Housing Trust Fund programs in North Dakota.

Dacotah Ridge LLLP was awarded $321,000 in credit authority through the LIHTC program to support the $3.8 million acquisition and rehabilitation of a 24-unit rental property in Dickinson occupied by elderly and disabled households.

The Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority received $865,169 in credit authority through LIHTC to rehabilitate New Horizon Manor. The $15.88 million project will completely update a 96-unit property occupied by elderly and disabled households.

Through the LIHTC program, Grand Forks Homes Inc. received $776,667 in credit authority and was awarded $772,514 from the HTF for the construction of LaGrave on First, an $8.57 million project that will provide 42 units of permanent supportive housing for households at risk of long-term homelessness.

The Jeremiah Program was awarded $1,052,655 from the HTF for its Jeremiah Program Apartments project in Fargo. The 20-unit development is a $5.51 million project that will provide supportive services for at-risk families headed by single parents.

Commonwealth Development Corporation was awarded $698,822 in credit authority from the LIHTC program and $1,021,024 through the HTF for the adaptive reuse of the former Mandan Junior High School into La Sagrada Familia Apartments, an $8.3 million project that will create 39 rental units for households at risk of homelessness.

LIHTC property owners receive the federal tax credit for 10 years. In return, the projects supported by the program must be affordable for households at or below 60 percent of area median income for at least 15 years.

The purpose of the HTF is to increase and preserve the supply of rental housing for extremely low income households, those earning less than 30 percent of AMI. Financial awards are structured as forgivable zero-interest loans with a minimum term of 30 years.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA 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.

Bank Challenges Others to Support Affordable Housing

Wells Fargo Makes Second Housing Incentive Fund Contribution

BISMARCK, ND – With a $1 million check to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) in hand, a Bismarck banker challenged other state taxpayers to make a contribution to the affordable housing development program.

Wells Fargo Makes Second Housing Incentive Fund Contribution

John Giese, business banking area manager for Wells Fargo in North Dakota, presents NDHFA Executive Director Jolene Kline with a $1 million contribution to the state’s Housing Incentive Fund.

John Giese, business banking area manager for Wells Fargo in North Dakota, presented the contribution – the bank’s second since HIF was renewed in July 2015 – and called on other businesses and individuals to join Wells Fargo in supporting the program.

“Wells Fargo is committed to supporting affordable housing to improve the quality of life for everyone in North Dakota, and one of the ways we honor that commitment is by supporting the HIF program,” said Giese. “With this second contribution, we’ve narrowed the gap a bit more, and now we encourage others to step up and contribute so these essential housing projects can move forward.”

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has until the end of 2016 to raise the final $2 million needed to fully capitalize HIF. The state program relies on taxpayer support to provide low-cost financing to developers of affordable rental housing. During the 2015 legislative session, NDHFA was given the authority to issue $30 million in state tax credits for the program. While contributions came in at a rapid rate in the first six months of the biennium with the agency securing $24.5 million by year end, the pace declined considerably this spring.

“We are very appreciative of Wells Fargo’s on-going support for HIF and ultimately for the families in North Dakota who need affordable housing the most like seniors and lower-wage workers,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA’s executive director. “We are so close to reaching our goal of fully funding HIF, just a little more help is needed so our pending projects are not lost.”

In March, NDHFA made conditional commitments to developments in Bismarck, Bowman, Devils Lake, Dickinson, Fargo, Gwinner, Minot, Valley City and Williston. The agency must secure the final contributions needed before the projects can begin construction.

“There simply aren’t enough rental units in our state that are affordable for households that are reliant on Social Security or for someone who earns modest wages,” Kline said. “HIF has been making a difference in the lives of real North Dakotans and we hope we can continue that good work. Wells Fargo’s contribution is helping us get there.”

Individuals and businesses that make contributions to HIF receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit. More information is available online at www.ndhousingincentivefund.org or by contacting NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

Since the program’s inception in 2011, NDHFA has allocated more than $89.6 million to 78 projects, leveraging over $425 million in construction financing to support the development of 2,450 new apartments statewide.

Housing Trust Fund Benefits Extremely Low Income Households

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency is now accepting applications for National Housing Trust Fund program dollars.

“The Housing Trust Fund is a new federal program intended to provide revenue to build, preserve and rehab housing for extremely low-income households including homeless individuals and families,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

NDHFA is responsible for administration of the HTF in North Dakota including the development of a plan that defines the process by which program allocations are made. The agency’s plan allows the program dollars to be used for construction, rehabilitation, acquisition or adaptive reuse of multifamily housing for households that earn less than 30 percent of area median income. Operating cost assistance may also be provided for a project’s HTF-assisted units.

Eligible recipients include units of local, state and tribal government; local and tribal housing authorities; community action agencies; regional planning councils; nonprofit organizations; and for-profit developers. During the first application round of each year, ten percent of the available funds will be set aside for projects located within North Dakota Indian Reservations or on Tribal land held in trust.

The plan and application are available online at www.ndhfa.org or by contacting NDHFA at (800) 292-8621. The deadline for submission of the first quarterly applications is Sept. 30, 2016.

Congress established the HTF as part of the Housing and Economic Recovery Act of 2008 and required Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to support the program. The requirement was suspended later that year when the companies were taken into conservatorship. The suspension was lifted in December 2014 and HUD will allocate the first HTF dollars this year. Upon HUD’s acceptance and approval of the state’s allocation plan, NDHFA expects to receive $3 million, the formula minimum.

A self-supporting state agency, NDHFA 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.