Finding a New Home After the Flood

Senator Hoeven and Linda Spence at the Washington Townhomes open house in Minot, ND.

The Souris River flood of 2011 inundated over 11,000 acres in Ward County, North Dakota, 4,115 homes flooded and more than 11,000 people were displaced, mostly within the community of Minot. The years following have been a challenging time for residents, and rebuilding and moving on has been particularly difficult for residents like Linda Spence whose physical disabilities require the use of a wheelchair.

Spence rented a home near the river that she was forced to vacate on June 1. That day, she had water over her wheels. Luckily a few National Guard members were nearby and were able to help Spence to safety. A second mandatory evacuation took place 21 days later. While Spence was able to get out safely again, this time flood waters rose to the roof of her home.

After the waters receded, the City of Minot deemed Spence’s home uninhabitable. The flood had opened a basement wall and water flowed through her home destroying everything in it.

“I miss my kids’ baby pictures, and the handmade gifts they had given me. Those are the things I miss the most,” says Spence, when asked to reflect back on the disaster.

After the flood, accessible housing units were very hard to find in the community. Spence lived in hotels, a moving van, and at least 20 shelters before finally getting into a Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) temporary housing unit with a ramp.

Scott Burlingame, executive director of Independence Inc., a non-profit organization that offers advocacy and teaches living skills to help those like Spence live independently, found that the flood really amplified the affordable and accessible housing shortage in Minot.

“There is an affordable housing shortage, period,” said Burlingame. “Then there is the issue of finding accessible housing on top of that. Many people with disabilities lost their homes during the flood. It’s a first for them to go through the process of losing everything, and it’s really challenging when they have additional housing obstacles to overcome.”

Spence never stopped looking for affordable long-term housing to apply for and her persistence finally paid off. In February, the Minot Housing Authority announced a lottery system would be conducted to determine which households would receive leases at Washington Townhomes, Minot’s first new affordable housing development in a decade.

Spence was one of 32 households who were lucky enough to have their names drawn for a unit in the first phase of the development. She says her new home has provided the opportunity to rebuild her life.

“The disaster made me realize what was truly important,” said Spence.

Beyond Shelter Inc. (BSI), a non-profit developer of affordable housing financed Washington Townhomes through state, local, and federal programs including the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program administered by North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. BSI received $272,893 in 2012 credits and $1,005,857 credits in 2013 bringing $11.8 million in equity to the project where rents range from $398 to $930 per month.
The new development is helping meet some of the affordable housing needs in the community as it recovers from the flood.

“I am so thankful for a home that is perfectly made for me,” said Spence. “All the outlets and switches are where I can reach them. The doorways are wide. And, it’s beautiful. Washington Townhomes is my safe haven, my castle.”

WSC Foundation Apartments House Essential Service Workers

The first phase of the WSC Foundation apartment complex was completed in August 2013.WILLISTON, ND – The Williston State College (WSC) Foundation today celebrated the successful completion of the first phase of the WSC Foundation Apartments, a 74-unit complex that houses essential service workers including WSC, state, city and school district employees, and Bethel Lutheran staff.

“I applaud the vision of the foundation staff and board in developing this unique project to provide housing for essential service employees and to ensure a steady workforce for the region,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who attended today’s open house. “They stepped outside the box to bring additional affordable housing opportunities to the region and to ensure that the critical needs of this growing community were covered.”

To ensure that apartment rents would be affordable for low- to moderate-income households, the $11.2 million project received a $1 million allocation from the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) and an interest rate buy-down through the Bank of North Dakota’s FlexPACE program. HIF contributions from Gate City Bank and U.S. Bank supported the state’s funding commitment. HIF is administered by the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA). The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agencies.

Jolene Kline, NDHFA, speaks at open house.

“Providing adequate housing for our workforce is one of North Dakota’s greatest challenges,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting executive director. “With the demand for development resources growing, more local, state and private dollars – like the HIF contributions made by Gate City Bank and U.S. Bank – are needed to address North Dakota’s affordable housing needs.”

WSC will break ground on the second phase of the housing development as soon as the building permits are approved. Phase II will provide 74 additional apartments with 43 of those units reserved for essential service workers.

In August, NDHFA made a conditional commitment of $3 million in HIF funding to phase II. That funding commitment will need to be capitalized by contributions from state taxpayers. Contributors receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit for contributions. Contributions can be targeted to a specific project or community. More information on HIF is available online at www.ndhousingincentivefund.org.

“We are grateful for the support the project received from the State and community; the support has allowed us to lower rent for all units which has been a game changer when hiring at WSC,” said Terry Olson, WSC Foundation director.

The WSC Foundation is a nonprofit agency that partners with the college in building relationships with alumni, donors, and surrounding communities; generating financial support; funding student and faculty development scholarships; and leading capital expansion to develop a thriving, state-of-the-art campus.

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

Development Will Provide Affordable Housing For Medical Personnel

Ribbon cutting at Mercy Heights, new housing for medical personnel.

WILLISTON, ND – Gov. Jack Dalrymple and representatives from Mercy Medical Center and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) today celebrated the completion of Mercy Heights Apartments, a new complex in Williston that will provide affordable housing for medical personnel. The $11 million project received a $1 million allocation from the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), reserving 20 units for low- to moderate-income households.

“The completion of Mercy Heights Apartments is a great example of the progress we are making through public-private partnerships promoted by the Housing Incentive Fund to address North Dakota’s affordable housing needs,” said Dalrymple. “Providing affordable housing for essential services employees and those on fixed incomes is critical as we continue to address the impacts of rapid growth and enhance the livability of our communities.”

Located at 301 2nd Street East in Williston, the modern four-story building has 66 apartments, underground tenant parking, and main floor commercial space. Two-thirds of the rental units are expected to be occupied by Mercy Medical Center employees.

According to Mercy Medical Center President Matt Grimshaw, the recruiting and retaining of quality healthcare staff has been difficult in recent years, with the lack of affordable housing a key issue. The medical facility established a long-term approach to address its housing needs by developing Mercy Heights Apartments. The complex is expected to make it easier to fill vacant positions at Williston’s hospital.

“To address the staffing challenge, Mercy began planning for a permanent solution to our housing needs, and with the support of our parent organization, Catholic Health Initiatives, and the State of North Dakota, it is now a reality,” said Grimshaw.

Mercy Heights was one of 24 housing projects selected by the state for development assistance in 2011/12. HIF contributions from Gate City Bank and American State Bank & Trust Company of Williston supported the state’s funding commitment of $1 million for the project.

“With the demand for development resources growing, more local, state and private dollars are needed to address North Dakota’s affordable housing needs,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting director. The agency administers HIF.

The state legislature reauthorized HIF during the 2013 legislative session, giving NDHFA a $15.4 million general fund appropriation and the authority to issue up to $20 million in state tax credits to further capitalize the program. NDHFA has made
conditional commitments to 18 new HIF projects so far. The agency will announce more commitments in November.

To support new projects, NDHFA needs to fully capitalize the new fund by Dec. 31, 2014. Contributions to HIF can be directed to a specific project or community. More information on the program is available online at www.ndhousingincentivefund.org.

In addition to the Mercy Heights Apartments, Catholic Health Initiatives (CHI) has made significant commitments to the communities it serves in western North Dakota. With recent expansions at Mercy Medical Center and the construction of a new hospital campus in Dickinson, CHI has invested $150 million in the region. For nearly 100 years, CHI facilities have been meeting the healthcare needs of the people in the area, and these investments will strengthen these communities for years to come.

NDHFA is a self-supporting state agency that finances the creation and rehabilitation of affordable housing across North Dakota. The North Dakota Industrial Commission, consisting of Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees the agency.

Development Will Add More Affordable Senior Apartments

WILLISTON, ND – More area seniors will soon be able to make the Williston Senior Apartment Homes their home. G.A. Haan Development and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) broke ground today for 21 additional affordable apartments at the complex.

Development partners and government officials break ground for phase II of the Williston Senior Apartment Homes.

“Projects like Williston Senior are important for affordable housing needs to be met in western North Dakota communities,” Lt. Gov. Wrigley said in an appearance on behalf of the North Dakota Industrial Commission. “Public-private partnerships will continue to encourage affordable housing development as a result of rapid growth, helping ensure that longtime residents and those on fixed incomes can remain in the communities they call home.”

The total cost of constructing Williston Senior Apartment Homes II is estimated at $3.9 million. The second phase of the development will consist of 9 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. Depending on income and family size, the apartments will rent for $274 to $762 per month. Haan Development anticipates that the second phase of the development will be completed by August 2014.

“The individuals that live at Williston Senior are an active and vital part of this growing community,” said Gerald Haan of G.A. Haan Development. “By expanding the development, we will be able to provide more housing options that enable local seniors to continue to affordably live in a community they’ve long called home.”

The first phase of the Williston Senior Apartment Homes development was completed in 2011. It is a 40-unit building.

The second phase of the development is supported by federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocated to the project by NDHFA.

“As Williston has grown dramatically in the last few years, the need for safe, decent and affordable housing for our seniors has grown too,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting director. “We are very excited to see this project break ground which will be a valuable asset to the community and will help those individuals who need it the most.”

Through the LIHTC program, property owners receive an annual tax credit from the federal government for up to 10 years in exchange for keeping the housing units affordable for low-income households. The tax credits NDHFA allocated to Williston Senior II will bring $3.39 million in equity to a project that will remain affordable for 45 years.

“LIHTC is an important piece of the puzzle that we hope can continue to help build much-needed housing in our communities,” added Kline. “As North Dakota continues to grow in the coming decades, we will need to maximize our federal resources while leveraging the local, state and private dollars that are needed to bring more affordable housing to fruition.”

Based in Harbor Springs, MI, Williston Senior Apartment Homes II is Haan Development’s fourth affordable housing development in North Dakota. Nokota Ridge, a family-friendly townhome development just north of the Williston Senior complex, and Lincoln Park Townhomes in Dickinson were also developed by Haan.

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

Housing Project Completed, New Housing Project Begins

DICKINSON, ND – Beyond Shelter, Inc. (BSI) and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) marked the successful completion of one housing development in Dickinson today and broke ground on a new project. The Patterson Heights Apartments is an affordable 24-unit, family-friendly complex. Heritage Hills Apartments will provide 42 rental units for lower-income households age 55 and older.

State and local officials celebrate the completion of the Patterson Heights Apartment complex with a ribbon cutting.

“The completion of the Patterson Heights development and the Heritage Hills groundbreaking illustrate the progress the state is making in addressing the need for affordable housing in western North Dakota, especially for essential services employees and those on fixed incomes,” said Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who attended today’s ceremony. “These two projects will help Dickinson meet the housing needs of its aging population and expanding workforce.”

Supported by a $1.4 million allocation from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) and $744,000 from a Law Enforcement Pilot Program (LEPP), Patterson Heights was one of the first affordable housing projects in the state to set-aside rental units specifically for law enforcement personnel.

“Law enforcement agencies in western North Dakota repeatedly cite housing costs and shortages as an issue in recruiting and retaining personnel,” said Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem. Eight units in the Patterson Heights property are reserved for Dickinson Police Department and Stark County Sheriff’s Department employees.

The Heritage Hills Apartments will provide affordable housing for lower-income households age 55 and older.

BSI’s Heritage Hills development received an allocation of $647,500 in federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) from NDHFA. The agency has also made a $200,000 HIF commitment to the project. Eight Heritage Hills units will be fully accessible. The apartments are expected to be complete by fall 2014.

“The development resources provided by the State of North Dakota are making these much-needed projects possible,” said Lynn Fundingsland, BSI CEO. “It takes a cooperative effort to successfully address the affordable housing needs of a community like Dickinson.”

“For many years LIHTCs were our development mainstay,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting director. “With federal resources becoming highly competitive, more local, state and private funding is needed to handle our current and future affordable housing needs in North Dakota.”

Both developments also received funding from the Governor’s discretionary Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) program administered by the North Dakota Department of Commerce. Heritage Hills received a $300,000 grant and Patterson Heights received more than $178,000. The CDBG program provides financial assistance for public facilities, housing and economic development projects.

HIF is capitalized by state taxpayers. The fund provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable rental housing. Contributions can be directed to a specific project or community. Marathon contributed $2.5 million to HIF in December 2011 targeting a portion of the funds to developments in Dickinson.

The attorney general, working in conjunction with the North Dakota Industrial Commission, asked NDHFA to develop the law enforcement program. LEPP was funded with the state’s approximately $3 million share of the Mortgage Servicing Settlement Fund. The legislature has since established a HIF program priority of providing affordable housing for essential service workers, including law enforcement personnel.

Additional partners in the developments include Affordable Housing Developers, Inc.; Bank of North Dakota; Housing Authority of Stark County; Stark Development Corporation; the City of Dickinson; and American Bank Center.

BSI is a nonprofit developer of affordable housing based in Fargo, ND. In partnership with many key stakeholders, the organization has developed more than 550 affordable residential units in North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota communities. New 2013 developments will bring the total to 654 affordable residential units.

NDHFA is a public financial institution. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversee the agency.

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First International Bank & Trust Supports Wolf Run Village

WATFORD CITY, ND – First International Bank & Trust has lent its support to an affordable housing development for Watford City teachers, law enforcement personnel, and city and county employees. The bank contributed $250,000 to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) in July specifically to support the development.

First International Bank & Trust contributed $250,000 to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund in July specifically to support the development.

“With the continued need for more permanent housing in western North Dakota, First International Bank & Trust is happy to make a contribution to the Wolf Run Village project,” said Steve Stenehjem, First International Bank & Trust CEO.

Capitalized by contributions from state taxpayers, HIF provides developers of affordable rental housing with low-cost financing if they agree to set-aside units for essential service workers and low- to moderate-income households. The North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) administers the program.

“First International Bank & Trust has been a great partner in the community and to the HIF program,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting executive director. “Through its contribution, the bank is making a positive impact that will help address Watford City’s public education and safety needs.”

Wolf Run Village, Inc. received a $1.48 million HIF commitment from NDHFA that ensures that the rental units are affordable to the essential service workers. First International Bank & Trust’s contribution supports the state agency’s commitment.

“The need for affordable housing is one of North Dakota’s biggest challenges,” said Kline. “By contributing to HIF, businesses and individuals help address this need and have a say in how their tax dollars are spent.”

The state legislature reauthorized HIF this spring, giving the program a $15.4 million general fund appropriation. The balance of the $35.4 million program relies on taxpayer contributions. Individuals and businesses that contribute to the fund receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit. Contributions can be directed to a specific project or community. NDHFA is authorized to issue tax credit certificates on a first-come, first-served basis up to a maximum $20 million.

Contributions to HIF can be targeted to a specific project or designated for general use in a community or region. In 2012, First International Bank & Trust contributed $220,000 to HIF to support projects in Minot, Watford City and Williston.

For more information on the Housing Incentive Fund, contact NDHFA at (701) 328-8080, (800) 292-8621 or www.ndhousingincentivefund.org.

First International Bank & Trust (North Dakota, Arizona and Minnesota) is owned by Watford City Bancshares, Inc., which is owned by the Stenehjem family. First International Bank & Trust is a full service, independent community bank, a member of FDIC, and an equal housing lender with 16 locations in 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 NDHFA.

Affordable Senior Housing Contruction Begins in Grand Forks

Cherrywood Village, a new living community for seniors.

GRAND FORKS, ND – Low-income seniors in Grand Forks will soon have a new place to call home thanks to an innovative state program administered by the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA).

Valley Memorial Homes recently began construction of Cherrywood Village, a two-story apartment complex that will provide 30 units of affordable housing for individuals age 62 and older. The project was funded in part by the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF).

“Right now, the senior apartments that Valley Memorial Homes offers in Grand Forks are all market rate. With the support we received from HIF, we will be able to provide housing for the independent, low-income elderly in the community,” said Nancy Andrews, Director of Housing and Assisted Living for Valley Memorial Homes.

Capitalized by contributions from state taxpayers, HIF provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable multifamily housing. Contributions can be directed to a specific project or community. US Bank contributed $1.2 million to HIF in December 2011, requesting that $500,000 be directed to the Valley Memorial Homes project.

“Valley Memorial Homes’ project will be a welcome addition to our community,” said Mayor Michael Brown. “With the anticipated growth of Grand Forks’ senior population, we expect to see an increased demand for affordable living options that aren’t assisted living.”

The Grand Forks Blue Ribbon Housing Commission’s Housing Market Snapshot projects that the city’s households headed by residents age 55 or older will continue to grow and that the existing senior population not yet requiring assisted living services are having difficulty finding affordable, accessible housing options.

Located at 3350 Cherry Street, the one-bedroom units will be targeted to households at 30 to 50 percent of Area Median Income. In Grand Forks County, a one-person household that earns no more than $14,220 would pay approximately $380 per month for rent.

“NDHFA’s mission and our goal for HIF is to ensure there are housing options for everyone in the community,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA acting executive director. “We are proud to partner with Valley Memorial Homes to address Grand Forks’s need for safe, decent and affordable senior housing.”

The development also received support from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; the City of Grand Forks; ICS, Inc.; Valley Homes and Services; and the Valley Memorial Foundation. The total cost of constructing the two-story building is estimated at $4.75 million. Valley Memorial Homes anticipates that the project will be completed by June 2014.

Valley Memorial Homes is a Christian non-profit organization providing long term care services for the greater Grand Forks area. Valley Memorial Homes, a partner with 26 area Lutheran congregations, is celebrating its 89th year of service. Valley Memorial Homes has five facilities located on three campuses throughout Grand Forks.

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

More information about the Housing Incentive Fund is available online at www.ndhousingincentivefund.org.