Sheehan Appointed to Housing Finance Agency Board

Joe Sheehan

BISMARCK, ND – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has appointed Joe Sheehan of Bismarck, ND, to North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) citizen advisory board.

Nominated by the Independent Community Bankers of North Dakota, Sheehan has 20 years of mortgage lending experience. He is currently a branch manager at Benchmark Mortgage.

“We are pleased to welcome Joe to our board,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA interim executive director. “He has a long history of supporting North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s homeownership programs. We are eager to receive his input on all of the affordable housing matters managed by the agency.”

Made up of representatives of the mortgage lending, residential real estate, and mobile home and manufactured housing industries, along with homeowner and buyer representatives, the board advises the Industrial Commission on the state agency’s business activities. Sheehan was appointed to a three-year term as a lender representative.

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 the affordable housing programs administered by NDHFA is available at www.ndhfa.org.

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.

Conquering Compliance Registration is Now Open

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

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

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

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

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

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

Assistance Available for Development of Affordable Housing

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) is currently accepting applications for affordable housing development assistance through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and National Housing Trust Fund (HTF) programs, and the state’s Housing Incentive Fund (HIF).

“The development support North Dakota Housing Finance Agency administers aids communities in addressing the housing needs of their most vulnerable populations,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA interim executive director.

LIHTC encourages private sector investment in affordable housing through tax incentives. Property owners receive the housing credits for up to 10 years based on capital investment and level of commitment to low-income tenancy. NDHFA anticipates $3.2 million in credit authority will be available in 2020, pending congressional approval, which would generate more than $28 million in project equity.

The HTF’s purpose is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households, including homeless individuals and families. Through the program, $3 million is available.

HIF supports the development of housing for low- to moderate-wage workers, the state’s aging population, individuals with disabilities and persons at-risk of homelessness. During the most recent legislative session, NDHFA received a $7.5 million appropriation from the general fund for the program.

The application process for each of NDHFA’s program is competitive with the top-scoring projects receiving conditional commitments from the agency. The applicants must provide evidence that there is a need for the type of housing proposed, that the community supports the development and that the construction costs are reasonable.

Applications for the assistance are due by 5 p.m., CT, on Sept. 30, 2019. Funding awards are accepted to be announced in early November.

More information on the programs and other financial and technical assistance provided by NDHFA is available online at http://www.ndhfa.org or by contacting the agency’s planning and housing development division at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

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

State Housing Agency Director Retiring July 1st

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) Executive Director Jolene Kline will retire on July 1st. A genuine advocate of affordable housing for all North Dakotans, Kline championed numerous state and federal initiatives, bolstering diversified housing options. During her tenure, NDHFA became the go-to for housing across the state through expanded programming and collaborative partnerships.

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Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

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

Kline began working in the agency’s rental division in 1985 and became the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program administrator in 1990. She was selected as the planning and housing development division director in 2006 and was charged with carrying out a strategy to address the state’s affordable housing challenges. Citing her outstanding advocacy, the North Dakota Industrial Commission appointed Kline NDHFA executive director in December 2013.

Kline’s first success as the executive director was the full capitalization of the state’s Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) in half the authorized time period which allowed NDHFA to begin investing the funds into much needed affordable housing sooner than expected. From 2011 to 2018, the program provided $89.8 million in gap financing to build and rehabilitate more than 2,500 rental units across North Dakota. The total development costs exceeding $443 million.

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

During Kline’s tenure, the agency’s North Dakota Roots program loosened its eligibility restrictions providing hundreds of state residents struggling to achieve homeownership with access to affordable interest rate loans and down payment and closing cost assistance. NDHFA took on the administration of the National Housing Trust Fund which provided the agency with revenue to support the development of housing for extremely low-income households. And, a relationship with the N.D. Dept. of Human Services led NDHFA to establish a Landlord Risk Mitigation Fund, providing households with a rental barrier the opportunity to access housing.

In 2018, NDHFA’s homeownership division had a record-breaking year, purchasing 1,798 FirstHome loans, and the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development ranked the agency as a Tier 1 Federal Housing Administration loan. After going a full biennium without funding, during the 66th Legislative Assembly, a $7.5 million general fund appropriation was made to HIF and development restrictions were lessened providing the program with greater flexibility.

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

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

Dave Flohr, NDHFA’s homeownership division director, will act as the agency’s interim executive director effective July 2nd while the North Dakota Industrial Commission conducts a search for a permanent director.

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

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Capital Magnet Fund Grant Presentation

Webinar

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

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

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

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

From the Director, June 2019

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Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

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

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

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

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

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