Tag Archives: affordable housing

From the Director, August 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

So often in our work, we use the term “affordable housing” and equally as often, we get the question about what that means.

Affordability is traditionally defined as spending no more than 30 percent of your income on housing costs. It is enshrined in nearly all of the programs we deal with and it is the best objective measure that we have available to us. We have to set the standard somewhere and it is easier for policymakers and the public to understand the number of households who are challenged if we can talk about it in consistent terms like “affordable” or “cost burdened.”

In all reality, affordability is very subjective. Each individual, family or household has a unique set of circumstances, income and expenses. Household budget decisions are influenced by many factors and while we like to think of housing costs as first priority, sometimes they have pretty stiff competition. Spending 30 percent on housing costs may be affordable for one household but not another that may have higher child care or healthcare costs. Affordability changes as life goes on as well – what was out of reach at one point in your life may be much more easily attained later. Or, for example, seniors may be able to afford housing costs when they are working, but it is a harder pull when they are living on a fixed income.

What can be confusing in understanding “affordable housing” is that while affordability is achieved at a personal level in any kind of housing, we use the term to talk about publicly-funded projects and programs. We call them affordable housing developments or discuss the importance of affordable housing resources. While there are other terms that have been used to talk about these types of projects – low-income, subsidized, rent-restricted, income-restricted, etc. – I like to use “affordable housing” because it spells out more clearly what we are trying to achieve. The mission of NDHFA is to make housing affordable for all North Dakotans and affordability is the main goal behind all of our programs.

We aren’t in the business of just giving out free money; we expect that if a project is going to take public funds than the public needs to see a benefit for it for the duration that is set out from the beginning. That benefit is affordability. It is the driver behind program rules and regulations and why we continuously monitor compliance of housing projects. We have been charged to be stewards of a precious resource and, while we also strive to be flexible and understanding of changing market conditions, we have to uphold our obligations and expect our housing partners to as well.

It would be incredible if one day we could say everyone can afford their housing costs on their own, but I know there will always be individuals and families in need for a multitude of reasons that are as unique as each of us. NDHFA aims to do what it can and we appreciate your partnership in achieving “affordable housing.”

Unique Senior Apartments Open in Downtown Bismarck

BISMARCK, ND – MetroPlains LLC opened the doors to a unique senior apartment complex today. Located in downtown Bismarck, the four-story building offers very desirable amenities and it’s affordable.

LtGovernor
Lt. Governor Sanford (center) congratulates MetroPlains on the completion of 100 West Main.

100 West Main has a four-season porch, lounge, exercise room, community room, and on-site chapel. A community manager organizes activities and supportive services are offered that allow tenants to age in place. The apartments all have energy-efficient lighting and appliances, and some have balconettes. The building is within walking distance of churches and restaurants, retail, financial and medical services, and it offers easy access to public transportation.

“Walkable downtowns that offer a variety of retail, dining and entertainment options, as well as housing for all income levels, are an important element of the Main Street Initiative,” Lt. Gov. Brent Sanford said at the celebratory event. “This property is a great example of public-private partnership creating diverse housing opportunities that help contribute to a healthy, vibrant community.”

Sanford attended the event on behalf of the North Dakota Industrial Commission. The commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

“Affordable housing for seniors with limited incomes is a much-needed resource in Bismarck,” said NDHFA Executive Director Jolene Kline. “100 West Main will be a great addition to the city’s core.”

NDHFA allocated $600,000 from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund to the project and awarded $506,097 in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The credits brought $5.11 million in equity to the project through the syndication by Wells Fargo Affordable Housing Community Development Corp. Wells Fargo also provided the project’s construction financing.

Additional development support was provided by the City of Bismarck, Bank of North Dakota, and the Lewis and Clark Development Group (formerly CommunityWorks North Dakota). Security First Bank provided the project’s pre-development and permanent financing.

“We are very appreciative of all of the support provided by our project partners,” said Rob McCready, MetroPlains Principal. The total cost of developing the property was $6.56 million.

“To have an opportunity to provide affordable housing for seniors in a location which contributes positively to the diversity and vitality of downtown Bismarck is extremely gratifying,” said Randy Schold, MetroPlains Principal.

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More photographs of the property are available on our Facebook page.

All of the apartments at 100 West Main are reserved for income-qualified households age 55 and older. There are 18 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. Five units are fully accessible. Depending on household size and income, the units rent for $370 to $806 per month plus utilities. An individual earning $17,370 or less would qualify to rent a one-bedroom apartment for $370.

Individuals who would like to learn more about 100 West Main can contact MetroPlains Management at (701) 751-9951. Information is also available online at www.metroplains.com.

MetroPlains partners with individuals, organizations and local governments in order to provide exceptional developments which meet the diverse housing goals of communities. MetroPlains Management provides property management services to promote a superior experience for the residents.

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

Fugere Joins Housing Agency’s Homeownership Division

Amy Fugere

BISMARCK, ND – Amy Fugere of Bismarck, ND, was recently hired by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. The state agency helps low- to moderate-income North Dakotans achieve homeownership by providing down payment and closing cost assistance, and affordable mortgage loans.

A homeownership specialist, Fugere will work primarily in mortgage acquisition, reviewing loan applications and communicating with participating lenders to ensure compliance with program standards. As needed, Fugere will assist with borrower services.

“Amy’s lending background makes her an excellent addition to both the homeownership origination and servicing teams,” said Jolene Kline, the agency’s executive director.

Prior to coming to work at NDHFA, Fugere worked at Capital Credit Union as an underwriter and at Gate City Bank as a loan officer.

The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Doug Burgum, as the chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA. For more information on the agency’s homeownership programs, contact NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or hfainfo@nd.gov.

From the Director, June 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Summer is always a busy time of year in North Dakota and for the housing industry this year isn’t any different.

While new home construction remains well off the record pace we saw just a few years ago, we are seeing more activity under NDHFA’s homeownership programs. Year-to-date through May, our flagship FirstHome™ program is up by 55 loans over 2016. That may not sound like a lot, but it amounts to about $10.4 million more in loans that we’ve purchased this year than last. That signals to me that as price increases have moderated, more people are taking advantage of the opportunity to become homeowners.

This was part of the economic playbook all along. As supply and demand reached equilibrium, those who had been shut out would again be able to enter the market. For many, though, the down payment assistance offered through NDHFA makes all the difference. In 2016, more than 80 percent of the borrowers using our programs also utilized this important resource. I expect that we will continue to see that trend this year and into the future.

Our partners know better than anyone that the past decade has been chock full of ups and downs, challenges and opportunities. In the case of a lot of first-time homebuyers, for everything in their favor, it seemed like there was something against them – interest rates were low, but prices were higher; new construction meant there were more homes on the market, but the competition was fierce. While things may have slowed down from the white hot housing market a few years ago, the people NDHFA loans are targeted at have benefited. The more people we can get into reasonable and affordable homeownership, the better off and more sustainable our communities and state will be.

Our main goal at NDHFA is to provide access to housing resources for the people who need it most. We can’t do that without our private sector partners and I want to express my deepest appreciation to you for making June Homeownership Month – and every month – a great time to buy a home.

Federal Affordable Housing Development Resources Available

BISMARCK, N.D. – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency is currently accepting applications for two federal affordable housing development programs.

HTFLIHTCAPPS2“Through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and Housing Trust Fund programs, we are able to help address the housing needs of our state’s lowest income residents, ensuring these vulnerable individuals and families have a safe place to call home,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

LIHTCs provide an incentive for the production or rehabilitation of low-income housing. Developers awarded credits sell them to raise equity capital from investors, reducing the debt required to produce, preserve or rehabilitate a property. The reduced costs make it possible for the developer to rent to households earning 60 percent or less than Area Median Income.

The purpose of the HTF is to increase and preserve the supply of housing for extremely low-income households, those earning less than 30 percent of AMI, including homeless families. These program dollars can be used for the production, preservation, rehabilitation and operation of a property. HTF financial awards are structured as forgivable zero-interest loans.

Eligible recipients of these program resources 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.

The program plans and applications are available online at www.ndhfa.org or by contacting NDHFA at (800) 292-8621. The deadline for submission is Sept. 29, 2017.

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

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.

Homeownership Programs Income and Acquisition Limits Updated

BISMARCK, N.D. – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has approved updated income and acquisition cost limits for the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) homeownership programs. The NDHFA assists state residents, typically first-time buyers, with the purchase of a home by providing low-cost financing and offering down payment and closing cost assistance and homebuyer education.

“Over the past 35 years, the NDHFA has helped more than 41,000 individuals and families successfully achieve homeownership,” said members of the Industrial Commission in a joint statement. “Homeownership is a dream for many families, and by working with our lending partners we are pleased to assist them in reaching that goal.”

The commission, consisting of Gov. Doug Burgum as chairman, Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem and Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring, oversees the NDHFA.

The maximum income limits for NDHFA’s FirstHome™ and HomeAccess programs were set at $77,600 to $102,925, and North Dakota Roots was set at $108,640 to $135,380. The limits vary depending on household size and the county where a financed home is located.

The FirstHome and HomeAccess acquisition cost limits for Burleigh, Morton, Stark and Williams counties were set at $273,176 for a new or existing single-family home. For all other counties, the limits were set at $253,809. Higher limits were also approved for existing two- to four-unit properties. North Dakota Roots program users must comply with limits set by their loan insurer or guarantor.

A network of private-sector lenders originate loans on the NDHFA’s behalf and sell the loans to the agency when they are closed. The updates are effective for loan reservations dated on or after June 6, 2017.

“We continue to see a favorable marketplace for first-time buyers and expect to serve approximately the same number of households in 2017 as we did the previous year,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director.

In 2016, the NDHFA assisted 1,087 first-time homebuyers through its FirstHome program. The average borrower’s household income was $56,000 and the average loan amount was $160,400.

Through HomeAccess, special needs households who may have previously owned a home may receive the same purchase assistance as first-time buyers.

Through North Dakota Roots, the NDHFA provides purchase assistance to moderate-income buyers who may have previously owned a home and first-time buyers whose income exceeds FirstHome program limits.

Borrowers receiving purchase assistance from the NDHFA are expected to meet normal credit underwriting standards and must intend to occupy the property as their principal residence. A minimum of a $500 out-of-pocket cash investment is required.

The income limits for the NDHFA’s homeownership programs are based on median income numbers published annually by the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Mortgage revenue bond regulations allow the agency to use the greater of county or state median income.

Based on Federal Housing Administration loan limits, the NDHFA’s acquisition cost limits are dictated by the Internal Revenue Service. The limits are adjusted to take into account the differences between average and median home prices and do not differentiate between new and existing properties.

The NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. More information on the agency’s homeownership programs is available online, www.ndhfa.org, or by contacting the agency at (800) 292-8621.