Tag Archives: Kline

From the Director, November 2018

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Over the past seven years, NDHFA has leveraged the state’s Housing Incentive Fund, working with developers and non-profits across North Dakota to create affordable housing and permanent supportive housing units for low- to moderate-income households, persons with disabilities, the frail elderly, and individuals and families experiencing homelessness.

What we have learned along the way, as many of you already know, is that the need is greater than the available resources. During the last funding round, eight applicants requested more than $4.7 million, however, only $1.6 million from HIF re-balancing dollars was available. The applicants also requested Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Housing Trust Fund dollars because projects that serve extremely low-income households need to have minimal to zero debt after construction to be able to cover operational and maintenance costs.

With our HIF resources now depleted, NDHFA’s staff waits to see if the program will receive new funding during the 2019 North Dakota Legislative Session.

During a recent meeting with the state’s Office of Management and Budget and the Governor’s staff, NDHFA requested $50 million be included in Governor Burgum’s budget for HIF. We know this is a substantial request, but we also know that the demand is present across the state as housing affects every community, urban and rural. Numerous organizations have reached out to NDHFA offering support for HIF, and it is reassuring to know that we are not the only entity that believes in the program.

Fortunately, housing is a bi-partisan issue, and we look forward to working with all of our state legislators, either newly elected or those returning to the capitol in January, to come to an agreement on the program’s future funding level.

At the federal level, NDHFA also continues to express the importance of development programs to rural states, working to ensure our message is not muted by states with larger populations. This year, North Dakota was one of the first states in the country to successfully construct and lease up a project utilizing the Housing Trust Fund, which was created and implemented in 2016. Our close relationships with local communities and public and private entities expedited the planning and construction process, which is sometimes envied by other states.

Recently, after evaluating more ways to get people into homes without using state or federal funding, NDHFA modified our North Dakota Roots program, increasing the income limits to assist in communities where the housing market still presents challenges. Roots is a resource for local lenders to be able to offer affordable financing and down payment and closing cost assistance to households who may have previously owned a home or who are first-time buyers whose incomes exceed the limits of our FirstHome™ program.

And, while the market greatly impacts the ability of people to find housing, sometimes the challenges are created by the individual. Through our newly implemented and operational Opening Doors Program, landlords now have access to a risk mitigation fund that eases concerns about housing individuals and families who have had bad experiences in the past either as a renter or in the justice system. Funding for Opening Doors was made possible through a partnership with the ND Dept. of Human Services.

NDHFA continues to evaluate our existing programs and make modifications, responding to market and community needs. With the changes made recently, we anticipate increased business and we hope that 2019 will be another record-breaking year for the agency as we strive to ensure that everyone has a safe and affordable place to call home.

From the Director, August 2018

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Throughout my years at the agency, I’ve learned that when communities advocate for themselves, the outcome can be dynamic. This month I participated in three community events where organized and passionate stakeholders, focused on long-term goals, achieved their vision for diversified housing. It is exciting to be a part of their vision during the development phase and to celebrate their successes at major milestones.

LaGrave on First in Grand Forks is a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project that will house 42 individuals experiencing chronic homelessness utilizing the ‘Housing First’ model where the individuals are rapidly housed and then offered services to address the issues causing their homelessness. After years of planning, six funding streams and strong community support, LaGrave on First opened its doors this month.

Another Housing First project, Edwinton Apartments in Bismarck, broke ground in August. It will create 40 new PSH units and be operational by the fall of 2019. The project is located within an Opportunity Zone that was designated by Gov. Burgum earlier this year.

We know that chronically homeless individuals cost communities $30,000 to $50,000 every year. Providing these individuals with immediate access to housing is estimated to save a community up to 40 percent of the total cost. Having a home is so important as the foundation for a new life where individuals can feel safe and begin their personal journey to stability and recovery. LaGrave and Edwinton are modeled after the Cooper House, North Dakota’s a Housing First project which opened in Fargo in 2010. After seeing Fargo’s success, other communities have a viable, working template to customize to fit within the parameters of their own needs.

Minot’s Park South Apartments, built in 1948 as a convent and converted to apartments in the 1980s, now offers 40 renovated housing units, 30 are deemed affordable. This project is a significant milestone for Minot for many reasons. In 2016, the city applied for and was awarded one of 13 National Disaster Resilience (NDR) grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development totaling $74.3 million. The city designated $21 million of their award for affordable multifamily housing. Park South is one of the first NDR completed projects in the nation and fills a critical affordable housing gap in the community. The project also received $2.23 million from NDHFA’s Housing Incentive Fund which was made possible by financial contributions from local banks, businesses and individuals in exchange for $2.23 million in state income tax credits.

Further west in the state, the Williston/Watford City areas are once again dealing with housing shortages which is also a workforce recruitment issue. In April, conversations began about how NDHFA’s Construction Loan Guarantee program could be leveraged to alleviate the pressure on this housing market. After analyzing the potential impact and discussions with multiple community stakeholders, the program has been modified. It can now provide up to $500,000 in guarantees per community or per contractor. Initially, it was designed to no more than five guarantees per community and three per contractor. This change will allow lenders to work with builders to determine the best balance between construction costs and local demand, taking advantage when possible of the economies of scale that come with building multiple homes in one location at one time. We are interested to see how communities benefit from the program change.

NDHFA’s mission is to make housing affordable for all North Dakotans, making the agency a stakeholder in every urban and rural community across the state. Together with these communities, private industry, nonprofits, faith-based entities and government agencies, we are making progress.

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.

From the Director, June 2018

 

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

This spring, NDHFA staff have been busy breaking records, breaking ground and ranking at the top of the nation!

In May, the agency received a Tier 1 ranking for the FY 2018 Q1 from HUD’s National Servicing Center for servicing Federal Housing Administration guaranteed single-family loans. The tier ranking system measures a mortgagee’s compliance with delinquent servicing guidelines and requirements in the areas of early delinquency intervention, loss mitigation engagement quantity and quality, and reporting. HUD established the tier ranking system to protect FHA borrowers from servicer non-compliance and to monitor potential servicer-specific or industry-wide delinquent servicing issues. A higher work-out ratio shows a servicer’s effectiveness in working with delinquent borrowers to keep them out of foreclosure. We are proud for scoring 97.18 percent!

Since the beginning of 2018, we’ve tracked the uptick in our FirstHome™ loan reservations. In May, they were 185 percent higher than last year, officially breaking the agency record. We received 262 loan reservations that month for $44 million in financing, which is our highest non-special event month ever. During the same time period in 2017, NDHFA recorded 141 reservations. The agency’s staff attributes private-sector lenders originating loans on our behalf and the current interest rate. NDHFA recently closed on the sale of $125 million in private activity bonds leveraging private capital to allow the agency to purchase these mortgages from the originating lenders.

Breaking ground happened at the YWCA Cass Clay Grace Gardens which will provide housing for up to 30 women and their children at-risk of homelessness, many of whom are transitioning from domestic violence situations. It was a privilege to stand with the YWCA, Lutheran Church of the Cross who is leasing the land for the project, Gate City Bank who is donating $1.5 million over 12 years for start-up costs and supportive services, ND Department of Commerce for committing $250,000 in CDBG funding for land acquisition, Housing Authority of Cass County for committing $2 million in Housing Choice Vouchers, and Beyond Shelter for developing the residence. This project is a true example of a public-private partnership that creates safe and affordable housing with supportive services unique to each family’s needs and goals to improve their economic stability and break the cycles of abuse and poverty for the next generation. The development assistance provided to the project by NDHFA is just shy of $7 million.

I hope the second half of the year keeps on track with all of the successes we’ve been able to celebrate this year.

From the Director, February 2018

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

Since the last annual Statewide Housing Conference, our staff has reflected on the value we provide to all of you during the time we have together. Through numerous conversations and feedback from attendees, we are shaking up the agenda and locations to create a format that is specific to your career training and professional development needs. We genuinely hope these changes will make your conference experience more rewarding and that your colleagues who may have not attended before will find a reason to this year.

The first day of the conference will focus on North Dakota’s housing market trends and strategies communities can leverage to address housing needs. Gov. Doug Burgum is the featured speaker and will outline housing’s role within the Main Street Initiative to influence quality of life when building stronger, reinvigorated communities. Following the governor is Elliot Eisenberg, Ph.D. who knows how to liven up an economic discussion of industry trends pertaining to housing, employment, state, regional and global economics. The afternoon includes three more dynamic breakout sessions that will give housing industry professionals new tools to look at the crucial role housing plays in communities of all sizes. This will be followed by our ever-popular networking social.

Day two is designed for three customized training and professional development tracks for multifamily development, property management and homeownership professionals. Attendees will interact with industry experts providing relevant information. But don’t forget about the Champion Awards Presentation and luncheon! Awardees will be recognized for their outstanding contributions over the past year.

Real estate agents, appraisers and lenders who are unable to attend the Bismarck event will have a second chance to connect with our homeownership staff in Fargo. A seminar on day three offers a repeat of a breakout session on the continuing effects of federal legislation and regulations enacted over the last decade on the sale, appraisal and mortgaging of real property.

You can choose to attend one or both days in Bismarck or meet us in Fargo, but I encourage you to hurry to register because the early bird deadline is Friday, April 13, and after that date the prices will increase. Register online at www.ndhfa.org. If you have questions or need additional information, please contact us at hfainfo@nd.gov or call (800) 292-8621.

I also want to thank all of our sponsors, vendors, panelists and speakers for helping to make this another great conference. I am excited to see all of you and I sincerely hope you will be able to join us on April 25-26 in Bismarck or Fargo on April 27.

 

 

From the Director, December 2017

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

As 2017 winds down and we look back at all that’s happened this year, I am more and more grateful to each of you for your continued partnership and support of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency and the housing industry in general.

In Washington, tax reform is still in ongoing negotiations and we don’t know for certain the total affect it will have on housing. One issue that is of grave concern to us is Private Activity Bonds, which the House eliminated but the Senate retained. We utilize the state’s Private Activity Bond authority to issue tax-exempt Mortgage Revenue Bonds to fund our homeownership programs. Without MRBs, we would not have the ability to offer competitive interest rates to first-time and other low-to-moderate income homebuyers.

Losing that program would be devastating for the people who need it most. This year, we have seen a continued upswing in homeownership activity. As more homes are on the market and the fevered competition that sprang from the oil boom of the past decade has cooled, first-time and lower-income homebuyers are better able to enter the market. We need to keep our main source of funding in place so that affordable homeownership will continue to be achievable.

Tax reform will also likely have a major impact on the multifamily development side as well. Lower corporate tax rates are expected to cause an approximately 10 to 15 percent drop in the value of Low Income Housing Tax Credits. That means that more credits will be needed per project to make them feasible and affordable. Receiving the small state minimum amount of tax credits, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency is able to fund about four or five projects each year. The unintended consequence of the tax cuts being debated in Congress will be a reduction in affordable housing for low-income individuals and families.

During the legislative session at the beginning of 2017, the Housing Incentive Fund came out with both a win and a loss. The program was made a permanent part of Century Code so we will no longer need to go back to the legislature every two years for renewal. That was a big win, but the loss came from the fact that no additional funding was authorized for the program. Due to some turn backs of previous awards, NDHFA was able to reallocate those funds this fall, but going forward we will not see the activity under that program that we have since 2011 when it was first created.

In 2017, NDHFA rolled out a program to assist community land trusts in North Dakota to have the capacity to do their work. The pilot allows CLTs access to a line of credit for acquisition/rehab or new construction of homes in their program. The Grand Forks CLT was the first to put the funding to use.

NDHFA is working out the details with the City of Minot to assist flood buy-out homeowners and those affected by the 2011 flood in buying a new home there. We look forward to having the program up and running very soon.

While these are just a few of the myriad of things that happened in housing this year, I certainly want to express my deep gratitude to those we work with every day. It is that day-to-day work that makes a difference in lives of North Dakota families. It is that work that gives people a warm place to sleep at night and a dining room table to gather around with family and friends.

I wish you the brightest blessings this holiday season and hope for another wonderful year full of partnership and progress in 2018. Thank you and happy holidays!

 

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.”