From the Director, June 2014

Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director

As we enter summer, housing construction is in full swing and 2014 looks to be as promising as the last several years. Thank goodness for that because people continue to stream into North Dakota at a record clip.

The Census Bureau reported in May that North Dakota’s rate of housing development was tops in the nation with eight counties in the top 100. This really was no surprise, but what often does catch people off guard, especially out-of-staters, is that even with thousands of new housing units being built we’ve really only begun to scratch the surface of the demand for housing.

As the economic boom in North Dakota continues to mature, the need for permanent workforce necessitates more permanent housing options – both rental and single-family. The Western North Dakota Energy Project estimates that significant population growth in the oil patch will demand permanent housing numbers to nearly double from 2010 to 2025. The rest of North Dakota also is on track to see extensive growth for the foreseeable future.

Ongoing discussions of needs continue to encourage investors and developers while challenging the state and local communities to provide the infrastructure necessary. This is a very large and very complex problem and what’s worse, there isn’t any one solution. Each place is different with varying resource needs to keep housing development going.

Inherent in these housing growth projections is the need for a portion of the units to be affordable for low- and moderate-income households. Jobs are available at nearly every pay grade across the state and lower cost options must be available for our economic growth to be sustainable. With attractive mortgage rates and higher acquisition cost limits, NDHFA is eager to help more families into responsible homeownership opportunities in North Dakota.

Thanks to the Housing Incentive Fund projects that are under construction, more than 1,200 affordable rental units will come online over the next two years. That’s a lot of units to be certain and something of which to be proud. However, when you consider that North Dakota has been adding more than 10,000 new housing units a year, it suddenly doesn’t seem like enough. The Statewide Housing Needs Assessment projects that we need about 3,000 units affordable for lower-income households each year.

With all the population growth and housing construction happening, there is a lot of speculation and consternation about where we are and what we can expect in the short and long term. There are a lot of people trying to get a better handle on that but what I know is that we need to continue pounding nails in new houses.

Jolene Kline
NDHFA executive director

Industrial Commission Approves Distribution of Housing Grants

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Industrial Commission has authorized the distribution of more than $197,000 to organizations statewide through Helping Housing Across North Dakota (Helping HAND). North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) administers the program.

“Helping HAND allows community action agencies, tribal housing authorities and other nonprofit organizations to quickly address the unmet housing needs of lower-income individuals and families,” commission members said in a joint statement. The Industrial Commission, consisting of Gov. Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency.

The 2014 funds will be distributed as follows:

Community Action Program Region VII, Bismarck………………………..$31,125
Dakota Prairie Community Action Agency, Devils Lake…………………… $20,126
Community Action Partnership, Dickinson/Williston……………………….. $15,491
Southeastern ND Community Action Agency, Fargo……………………… $46,204
Red River Valley Community Action, Grand Forks………………………… $29,608
Community Action Region VI, Jamestown………………………………….. $14,002
Community Action Partnership, Minot……………………………………….. $20,444
Turtle Mountain Band of Chippewa, Belcourt………………………………. $9,166
Red River Valley Habitat for Humanity, Grand Forks…………………….. $3,000
Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity, Moorhead……………………………. $3,000
Habitat for Humanity Northern Lights, Minot……………………………….. $3,000
Rebuilding Together, Fargo/Moorhead……………………………………… $1,000
Camp of the Cross Ministries/Dream Catchers, Garrison……………..   $1,000

Funded by agency earnings, Helping HAND has leveraged more than $26 million since 2000 for the construction or rehabilitation of more than 4,500 housing units statewide.

Grant recipients are encouraged to use program dollars to benefit the largest number of households possible. A local match of 25 percent is required to access the funds. Helping HAND dollars are most often used for housing weatherization and rehabilitation projects. All of the funds must be utilized for projects in North Dakota.

For more information on Helping HAND, contact NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or visit www.ndhfa.org.

Housing Agency Increases Loan Purchase Price Limit

BISMARCK – The Industrial Commission has increased the purchase price limit of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) homeownership programs from $250,000 to $265,158 in accordance with Internal Revenue Service guidelines.

“The affordable mortgage financing offered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency provides the extra boost many young families need to be able to get into their first home,” said members of the commission in a joint statement. The Industrial Commission, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency.

NDHFA offers first-time buyers below-market interest rate mortgage loans through its FirstHome™ program. Households headed by a single parent or that include a disabled or elderly member or a veteran honorably discharged from active duty may qualify for similar cost savings through the agency’s HomeAccess program. NDHFA also provides down payment and closing cost assistance and supports homebuyer education.

“NDHFA’s loans are offered through a network of lending and real estate partners,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “Together, we have helped more than 38,000 households statewide responsibly and affordably achieve homeownership.”

NDHFA purchased 892 loans, averaging $136,800, in 2013. Sixty-four percent of these borrowers received some form of down payment and/or closing cost assistance.  The agency has provided more than $2.79 billion in mortgage loans since 1982.

For more information on NDHFA homeownership programs, visit the agency’s website at www.ndhfa.org.

Affordable Workforce Housing Construction Begins in Minot

Officials celebrate the ground breaking of Fieldcrest Apartments in Minot, ND.

MINOT, ND – Beyond Shelter, Inc. (BSI), the Minot Housing Authority and North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) broke ground today for Fieldcrest Apartments, a development that will bring affordable workforce housing to northeast Minot.

Depending on income and family size, the Fieldcrest units will rent for $400 to $804 per month. Nine apartments in the development are reserved specifically for Essential Service Workers – individuals employed by a school, medical facility or government agency deemed an essential public service.

“Ensuring that citizens impacted by rapid growth and flood recovery have access to affordable housing is a top priority for our state,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple. “This project is an important infrastructure investment for the Minot area, providing affordable housing for those on fixed incomes and for employees who provide essential services for the community.”

The total cost of constructing Fieldcrest is estimated at $8.3 million with the state providing more than $6 million to support the project. The development received a $2.3 million Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) commitment from NDHFA and an interest rate buy-down through Bank of North Dakota’s (BND) FlexPACE Affordable Housing Program. The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA and BND. The development also received a $3.76 million Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery (CDBG DR) grant administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce,

“Beyond Shelter’s mission is to improve communities by developing housing for those most in need,” said Lynn Fundingsland, BSI CEO. “Without these layers of financial support, our organization would not be able to build housing that rents at affordable levels.”

“NDHFA is charged with ensuring that everyone in North Dakota has access to affordable housing,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “We will continue to work with the Industrial Commission members to address the needs of the state’s growing communities.”

HIF provides low-cost financing to developers that create affordable rental housing. The program is capitalized in part by taxpayer contributions that can be directed to specific projects. American Bank Center, Bremer Bank, U.S. Bank and Wells Fargo all made contributions to support Fieldcrest.

FlexPACE is designed to assist in the financing of affordable multi-family housing.

The CDBG program provides financial assistance for public facilities, housing and economic development projects. In addition to the dollars provided by the State, the City of Minot granted $750,000 of its CDBG DR funds to BSI to acquire the Fieldcrest site. An additional $100,000 of the city’s CDBG DR funds was used for off-site sanitary sewer extension work.

The 42-unit apartment complex will be located at 500 36th Ave NE in Minot. BSI anticipates that construction will be completed by June 2015.

A nonprofit developer of affordable housing based in Fargo, ND, BSI has partnered with like-minded organizations to develop more than 654 affordable residential units in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota. BSI will break ground on 191 new units in 2014.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency that finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing across North Dakota.

Roundtable to Focus on Jamestown’s Housing Issues

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – Examining the current housing situation in Jamestown and Stutsman County and planning for future growth will be the focus of a roundtable discussion here next week.

North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA), Stutsman County Housing Authority, and other local and state leaders will host the roundtable at the Jamestown/Stutsman Development Corporation office, 120 2nd Street SE, Jamestown, N.D., on Wednesday, May 21, from 1-5 p.m.

“Ensuring suitable and affordable housing options are available for all the residents of the community will be important as Jamestown and Stutsman County continue to grow,” said Jennifer Henderson, NDHFA’s planning and housing development director. “This roundtable will allow the community to discuss its changing economic and housing needs and plot out effective strategies for the future.”

Discussion topics will include current and future housing needs, programs and methods to encourage development, potential stumbling blocks, and solutions to create additional housing in the community.

City and county commissioners; legislators; housing, economic and job development authority officials; lenders; and rural electric cooperative representatives are encouraged to attend.

To RSVP or if you have questions, contact NDHFA at (800) 292-8621 or info@ndhfa.org. The registration deadline is May 19.

Compliance Income Calculations Updated

The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has revised the income calculations for its homeownership program compliance.

“These changes will allow many of the households that are just over our income limits to qualify for affordable home financing,” said Dave Flohr, homeownership division director.

Deductions from borrower income are now permitted including allowances for dependents, elderly and disabled household members, child care, disability assistance, medical expenses and unreimbursed business expenses. The agency will no longer require a profit and loss statement for self-employed and business income.

Participating lenders and FirstHome Certified Real Estate Agents should refer to Update No. 14-07 for more details. Questions regarding income calculations can be directed to NDHFA’s loan origination staff.

Apartment Project to Serve Individuals With Disabilities Underway

ABLE Inc. Executive Director Mary Anderson introduces the Sullian Apartments development. Sullivan Properties has reserved nine units in a 30-unit development for individuals who work for and receive services from ABLE Inc.

Dickinson Development Received Strong Taxpayer Support

DICKINSON, ND – Ground was broken in Dickinson today for an apartment complex that will offer a reduced rental rate to individuals with intellectual disabilities. Sullivan Properties has reserved nine units in a 30-unit development for individuals who work for and receive services from ABLE Inc.

Thanks to strong taxpayer backing of North Dakota Housing Finance Agency’s (NDHFA) funding commitment, the set-aside apartments will rent at below-market rates. The project received $1.4 million through the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), an affordable housing development program administered by the state agency.

“We are very appreciative of the support the project received,” said Mary Anderson, ABLE Inc. executive director. “This Housing Incentive Fund commitment allows us to create better housing opportunities for people with disabilities.”

HIF provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable rental housing. The program is capitalized in part by taxpayer contributions that can be directed to specific projects. American Bank Center, the Armstrong Corporation, Bob’s Oilfield Service Inc., Choice Financial, Dakota Community Bank & Trust, Marathon Oil Corp., Northern Improvement, Tesoro Corp. and U.S. Bank all directed that their HIF contributions should support the development. The project received several contributions from individual taxpayers too.

“NDHFA’s mission and our goal for HIF are to ensure there are housing options for everyone in a community,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “We are proud to be able to partner with ABLE Inc. and Sullivan Properties to address Dickinson’s need for safe, decent and affordable housing for disabled individuals.”

Sullivan Apartments will be located at 1141 23rd Street West in Dickinson. It will consist of three buildings – two 12-plexes and one 6-plex. The units designated for use by ABLE’s clients will rent for $610 to $723 per month, utilities included. The remaining units will rent at market rate.

The total cost of constructing the complex is estimated at $4.8 million. Sullivan Properties anticipates that the project will be completed by early 2015.

ABLE, Inc. is a not-for-profit agency employing and supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The organization will have an office at the complex and will have onsite staff who will rotate between the units providing support as needed.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency that finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing across North Dakota. 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 on the development assistance available provided by NDHFA is available online at www.ndhfa.org.

From the Director, April 2014

In February, the National Housing Conference published a report that looked at severe housing cost burdens across the country. North Dakota fared very well with 11 percent being severely cost burdened – well below the 15.6 percent national average. That report, which was examined in an article in Governingmagazine, prompted an email from a legislator asking about the numbers and the conflicting stories about “affordability” that we hear every day.

While it is interesting to see how North Dakota sits compared to the rest of the nation, the numbers from the report need to be taken in a much larger context.

Lately, “affordable housing” has become a vague or misrepresented term. Generally, when a household spends 30 percent or less of their gross income on housing and utility costs it is considered to be “affordable.” Households are cost burdened when they spend more than that on housing and are severely cost burdened when they spend more than half of their gross income on housing.

The NHC report looked only at “working households,” which are those with members working a total of at least 20 hours a week and household income that does not exceed 120 percent of area median income. The report shows that there were 132,904 households fitting this description in North Dakota in 2012 and that 15,012 or 11.3 percent were severely cost burdened.

The significant and growing number of senior households that are no longer in the workforce are not contemplated in the study. North Dakota has more than 64,000 households that are 65 or older and that is projected to reach more than 98,000 by 2025 as the Baby Boom generation ages. Cost burdens affect these households at a higher rate both in homeownership as well as renters. These fixed income households with an average income of $41,346 are less able to tolerate increases in housing costs than working households.

It is not surprising that North Dakota’s numbers look comparatively better than the rest of the country – especially when North Dakota led the nation in personal income growth in 2013 – but that shouldn’t be taken as an indication that everything is fine. There are thousands of households that struggle every day to balance housing with other costs like food, child care, transportation and medical expenses. When a household has to spend half of its gross income on housing, the budget decisions for the other half get very tough and sometimes important needs can get neglected.

Housing burdens also negatively impact the economy, in general, as there is less discretionary spending. Business expansion and growth can be hampered when there are not affordable housing options because of the difficulty of recruiting and retaining workers. Shortages of affordable housing options for workers are not just an oil patch concern; in fact, companies in Grand Forks, Jamestown and Valley City have felt the pinch of a tight housing market.

While housing construction has been happening at record pace in many areas of the state, the NHC report further illustrates the importance of truly affordable housing options for lower income households. Thanks to the Housing Incentive Fund, North Dakota has significantly increased the production of housing units targeted to these households, but there is certainly much more to do in the years ahead.

Jolene Kline
NDHFA executive director

Dettlaff Heads Servicing Department

Brandon Dettlaff

BISMARCK – The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has named Brandon Dettlaff as the Homeownership Division’s loan servicing coordinator.

“Brandon’s leadership and talent coupled with his past experience make him a great asset to our homeownership division,” said Dave Flohr, NDHFA homeownership division director.

Dettlaff has been with the state agency for six years and previously served as mortgage loan specialist. In his new position, he oversees mortgage loan servicing including payment and escrow administration, foreclosures, collections and defaults, mortgage insurance claims and new loan set-up for both internally and externally serviced loans. Dettlaff also assists the division director in the development and procurement of administrative procedures for loan administration.

NDHFA is a public financial institution dedicated to making housing affordable for all North Dakotans. The agency facilitates affordable mortgage financing, assures the continued availability of low-income rental housing, and seeks to provide for the state’s changing housing needs.

The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple, who serves as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA.

Federal Tax Credits Support Affordable Senior Housing

BISMARCK – The Industrial Commission announced today that the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has allocated $2.4 million in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) to five affordable senior housing projects.  The 163 units constructed will be located in Dickinson, Fargo, Jamestown, Minot and West Fargo.

“As North Dakota has grown dramatically in the last few years, so has the need for affordable housing for our aging population,” commission members said in a joint statement.

The Industrial Commission, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA.

“We were pleased to receive so many good applications for quality projects, and to have the applications that will create housing for our most vulnerable population score so well,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “The 2014 credits bring an estimated $21 million in equity to the projects.”

The credits are awarded annually through a competitive application process. NDHFA received eight applications for the 2014 credits. All of the top-scoring applications were for projects providing housing for households age 55 and older.

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

For more information on the LIHTC program, contact Sylvia Burgess at (800) 292-8621 or info@ndhfa.org.

NDHFA provides low-cost mortgages for low- to moderate-income households, finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing, and monitors program compliance on low-income housing projects across North Dakota.