Hoeven: More than $200 Million in Federal Funds Helping Address Housing Needs in Minot, Western North Dakota

Townhome Project Uses Federal Housing Tax Credit and HOME Program

MINOT, ND – Senator John Hoeven today said nearly $204 million in regular and disaster federal housing assistance are at work in the state of North Dakota this year to address housing shortages caused by disasters and economic growth. That includes nearly $85 million in Community Development Block Grant funding, more than $77 million of which will go to the Minot region; $80 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency Hazard Mitigation Grant funding; $33 million in Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Section 8 funding; $3 million in HUD Home grants; and $2.7 million in HUD Low Income Housing Tax Credits.

The Senator also helped break ground on the Washington Townhomes housing project in Minot, which uses a $700,000 grant from HUD’s HOME program and federal low income housing tax credits to finance construction of 64 new low-income residential housing units.

Hoeven joined housing developers and local, state and community leaders at the Souris Basin Affordable Housing Forum to develop initiatives to help meet housing needs in Minot and the surrounding Souris Basin communities. The 2011 Souris River flooding and growing population in Western North Dakota have led to housing shortages, and forum attendees are working to develop safe, affordable housing options for the region.

“Between severe flooding last year, and the rapid economic growth in the region, there is a tremendous need for affordable housing in Western North Dakota,” Hoeven said. “If we pool our ideas and our resources, I’m confident that we can forge productive partnerships and find creative solutions to address the housing challenges we’re facing in North Dakota’s rapidly expanding and changing communities.”

Hoeven said he has been working with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to identify additional resources to assist local housing authorities and non-profit organizations build new units, renovate existing units or provide rental assistance to low-income families.

Hoeven said HUD’s Section 8 funds are designed to support public housing including housing vouchers, administration, and construction/maintenance. Currently the rules regulating the use of these funds are restrictive, but the senator said he is working with HUD to gain more flexibility that would allow communities to use funds in ways that help meet the low income housing needs in the state.

HUD’s HOME funding is allocated to various state and local organizations to support single family home rehabilitation, multifamily construction and first time home buyer down payment and closing fees. Low Income Housing Tax Credits must be used to construct new or rehabilitate existing rental housing. Developers are allocated the credits, which they typically sell to investors for equity in the project. This year the credits leveraged nearly $25 million in equity investments and were used to support the following projects: 64 units in Minot, 40 units in Dickinson, 30 units in Standing Rock, 44 units in Williston.

Today’s forum was attended by local, state and federal officials, along with housing developers, legislators and other local leaders who discussed the housing needs for Minot and other Souris Basin communities impacted by the 2011 flood. Participants worked to generate ideas to make affordable housing work, share best practices and successes, take an inventory of local initiatives and challenges and plan for moving forward with affordable housing development.

The first half of the day was dedicated to a review of housing in the area, including an update on temporary housing units by Dan Alexander, FEMA Region VIII Federal Disaster Recovery Coordinator. It also included a session on factors that help to make housing affordable. Participants included Jessica Thomasson of Lutheran Social Services, Dan Madler of Beyond Shelter, Inc., Tom Pearson of Minot Housing Authority, Emily Wright from Grand Forks Housing Authority, Paul Rechlin from Community Works ND and Tina Goodroad, from Stantec, a professional design and consulting services firm.

The Souris Basin Affordable Housing Forum is a joint effort of the City of Minot, Minot Area Chamber of Commerce, Minot Housing Authority, Souris Basin Planning Council, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, Bank of North Dakota, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Federal Emergency Management Agency, USDA Rural Development and other non-profit affordable housing developers.

The Washington Townhomes project is being developed by Beyond Shelter, Inc., a nonprofit affordable housing developer, and the Minot Housing Authority (MHA). It is funded through the Federal Low Income Tax Credit Program, the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency and HUD’s HOME program, which provided $700,000 for the project. Construction will be completed in two phases, with the second phase scheduled to begin in early fall of 2013.