Tag Archives: Homeless

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.

YWCA Grace Garden groundbreaking promises critical answer to women and families starting new lives.

 

More photographs from the event are available on NDHFA’s Facebook page.

WEST FARGO, ND – YWCA Cass Clay broke ground today on a new residence, Grace Garden, in West Fargo, ND, that, when it opens in 2019, will reflect a new ideal of how to end homelessness by providing ‘Housing First’.

“Stability is the key to success,” says YWCA CEO Erin Prochnow. “Grace Garden will be a place of safety and sure footing for 30 women and their children seeking a better life. At the residence, families will be able to improve their economic stability and health, breaking the cycles of abuse and poverty for the next generation by being assured of an affordable home and support that’s unique to each family’s goals.”

The new $4.3 million property follows the current mindset in America, one that YWCA Cass Clay has championed for decades.

The Housing First homeless prevention model seeks to get those who are homeless out of crisis and rapidly into safe and affordable housing. From this sure ground, women and children get continuous support and guidance from a YWCA advocate as they work on personal goals for jobs, health, education, parenting and more.

The Grace Garden idea first arose when Pastor Joel Baranko of Lutheran Church of the Cross reached out to the YWCA. Interested developers had offered to purchase the large grassy lot adjacent to the church’s property at 1402 16th St. E. in West Fargo, however the church declined offers that were not consistent with its mission and might have resulted in a less neighborhood-friendly project.

“I began to wonder how God might be calling us to put to good use the property with which we had been entrusted. How can we live and love like Jesus with this land?” recalls Baranko.

The congregation voted to lease the site to YWCA in May of 2018, providing an ideal situation for families served by YWCA because of the close proximity to schools, bus routes, employment and worship opportunities.

Gate City Bank demonstrated their commitment to providing a better way of life by pledging $1.5 million to fund project start-up costs and support services over the first 10 years.

“It’s particularly exciting to fund the staff or human side; the real game-changer to empowering women after they’re safely housed. They get practical life guidance, encouragement and someone to walk alongside them as they courageously work towards life goals they determine. The impact will be great for generations to come,” said Kim Meyer, Gate City Bank Executive Vice President of Retail Banking and Human Resources.

In November 2017, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) awarded development support to the residence through the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, $672,500, and National Housing Trust Fund, $325,549, and the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, $500,000.

“Grace Garden is a partnership of caring concern from the nonprofit, business and community sectors,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “We are pleased to be able to provide the public sector support needed to complete this extraordinary project, ensuring women and children transitioning from domestic violence have a safe and affordable place to call home.”

The North Dakota Department of Commerce is supporting the land acquisition for Grace Garden through the Governor’s Community Development Block Grant Discretionary Funds.

“Our goal at Commerce is directly related to family stability and community revitalization,” Adele Sigl with the North Dakota Department of Commerce said. “Everyone deserves a place to call home and this new YWCA Supportive Housing project is a community solution to help eliminate homelessness by providing hope, dignity, and support in the form of permanent supportive housing.”

The residence will also receive rental assistance from the Housing Authority of Cass County. A $2.2 million, 15-year contract provides 30 Housing Choice Vouchers to ensure every apartment will be affordable to the families that will call them home.

Thanks to the financing secured, the YWCA will not need to conduct a capital campaign to build Grace Garden. The YWCA will fundraise and facilitate donation drives for furniture, equipment and supplies to help families and operate the building.

The YWCA first ventured into providing supportive housing in 1989 when donors gifted a Fargo four-plex to the organization. Today, it operates 32 supportive housing units. The addition of Grace Garden will allow the YWCA to far exceed expansion plans that were put in place by the organization’s local governing board in 2015, a five-year goal of 40 supportive apartment spaces by 2020.

In 2017, 314 women and children were eligible for the YWCA’s supportive housing units, but only 60 were able to gain homes through the organization. “Unfortunately, women escaping domestic violence typically do not score high enough on assessments to be rapidly housed,” said Prochnow.

Prospective participants for supportive housing in the Fargo metro area are screened through an assessment tool used universally by shelters in the region. Shelter providers meet weekly to review the risk scores of homeless individuals in the system. Openings in housing programs are outlined and applicant’s risk scores are used to match them with a housing program that fits.

Grace Garden’s residents will come primarily from the YWCA emergency shelter and other referring agencies in the community.

Construction on the two-story building begins this summer and is expected to finish in spring 2019. The property will include one- to four-bedroom apartments and community spaces for classes and gatherings. Main floor offices will be home base for YWCA advocates, nursing and other professional resources coming onsite.

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.

Construction Begins on Permanent Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals

GRAND FORKS, ND – Grand Forks Homes Inc. broke ground today on LaGrave on First, a project that will provide affordable housing and supportive services for individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the community.

Partners

LaGrave on First development partners, Grand Forks Housing Authority and Beyond Shelter, Inc. More images from the event are posted on NDHFA’s Facebook page.

“To end homelessness, the first step is to provide permanent housing,” said Terry Hanson, Grand Forks Housing Authority executive director. LaGrave will employ an approach called ‘Housing First’ that prioritizes the provision of housing, then provides services for residents to address their individual issues.

The project has strong support from the City of Grand Forks, which first identified the community’s need for Permanent Supportive Housing in its 2008 plan to end long-term homelessness. The city donated the land on which LaGrave will be built, and committed $335,000 in HOME program funds to the development.

LaGrave also has the backing of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. The state agency provided most of the $8.7 million project’s financing by allocating federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that brought almost $7 million in equity to the project. NDHFA also awarded $772,514 to LaGrave from the National Housing Trust Fund.

Kline
GFHA received $7.7 million from NDHFA to support the development of LaGrave. NDHFA Executive Director Jolene Kline addresses the ground breaking attendees.

“Our mission is to ensure that all North Dakotans have safe and affordable housing,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. Kline also serves as the chair of the state’s Interagency Council on Homelessness.

Beyond Shelter Inc., a nonprofit developer based in Fargo, ND, is the housing authority’s development partner in the project. “We are pleased to be able to work with the Grand Forks Housing Authority, offering our expertise to address this housing shortfall in the Grand Forks community,” said BSI CEO Dan Madler. LaGrave is BSI’s sixth PSH project.

Additional financial assistance is 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 in exchange for a preference for its tribal members for five of the housing units.

The four-story building will be constructed in downtown Grand Forks on a site that was a city skate park adjacent to the police department. It will have 42 one-bedroom/one-bath apartments with services provided on-site and 24/7 staffing. Nine of the units will be fully accessible. GFHA will manage the property.

State Housing Agency Secures Counseling Grant

BISMARCK, ND – North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has secured a $135,028 U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) grant that will support housing counseling services statewide.

 The funds will be split between four affiliate organizations:

  • Community Action Program Region VII of Bismarck, $23,323
  • Community Action Partnership of Dickinson, $24,323
  • Community Action Opportunities of Minot, $45,647
  • South Eastern North Dakota Community Action Agency of Fargo, $34,985

“These grant recipients offer financial literacy training, provide assistance to renters and homeless persons, and assist households of modest means in becoming and remaining homeowners,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “The support provided helps individuals and families in making informed housing decisions.”

HUD’s housing counseling grants are awarded annually through a competitive process. The organizations that apply must be preapproved by the federal agency and are subject to biennial performance reviews to maintain the approved status.

National and regional organizations including state housing finance agencies like NDHFA are typically responsible for the distribution of the grant funding to the community-based organizations that provide guidance to low- and moderate-income households seeking to improve their housing situation. The larger entities also help improve the quality of the counseling services and enhance coordination among the providers.

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 Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency. More information about NDHFA is available online at www.ndhfa.org or by calling 800-292-8621.

Legislative Wrap Up

 

The 63rd Legislative Assembly has wrapped up their work and addressed several issues related to housing. There was a lot of work and stress involved as proposals made their way through the process, but overall the session was a success not only for North Dakota Housing Finance Agency but for affordable housing in general.

The biggest accomplishment was the reauthorization of the Housing Incentive Fund, which will be capitalized with $20 million in tax credits and $15.4 million in a transfer from the state’s general fund. The program, which was first started in 2011, will continue to address affordable rental housing issues in the state and the Legislature added a new priority for essential service workers.

Two bills that made technical correction to Century Code will allow NDHFA some flexibility in financing homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers were also enacted. The measures, HB 1083 and SB 2079, will allow the Agency to access resources to assist even more low- and moderate-income families into affordable and responsible homeownership.

As part of their tax reforms, the Legislature also passed a measure that makes a positive statement that affordable housing is a public purpose and will allow projects owned by nonprofit entities a break on property taxes which will help keep rents lower. Previously affordable housing property tax treatment was checkerboard across the state, but with passage of SB 2338, there is a clear standard that looks favorably on affordable housing projects.

To help address the growing number of homeless individuals in the state, the Legislature provided $2 million to supplement the Emergency Solutions Grant program that provides funds to homeless service providers. They also provided $2.6 million to help address the need for additional child care in the state.

The state is also providing funds to continue to assist Minot in making a full recovery from the 2011 flood. To help ensure that lower-income families that are temporarily housed can stay in their community, $1.5 million was approved to keep occupied FEMA units in service while permanent affordable housing options are built over the next few years.
For a full report on housing legislation, http://www.ndhfa.org/Web_Images/Housing_legislation_web.htm