North Dakota Governor Jack Dalrymple (R) recently announced plans to support increased affordable housing development, including an additional $20 million in tax credits for the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF), North Dakota’s housing trust fund. Advocates like the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People (NDCHP), an NLIHC state partner, are encouraged by this proposed investment in the HIF, which has nearly doubled affordable housing production in their state since its establishment in 2011.
Advocates have worked to gain Governor Dalrymple’s support for the HIF, which is scheduled to sunset in December, and strengthened their efforts in the past several months. They highlighted HIF’s progress toward addressing the state’s housing crisis, which was exacerbated by population growth resulting from an increase of oil industry jobs and by a 2011 flood that displaced more than 10,000 people (see Memo, 2/17). Thanks to HIF financing, the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) has led the development of nearly 1,300 low income housing units throughout the state. Advocates are pleased with HIF’s success to date, but believe additional funds are needed to address the continued crisis. Advocates expect the legislature will extend the fund when it convenes in January.
At NDHFA’s request, the Center for Social Research at North Dakota State University updated its Statewide Housing Assessment Report to inform the state’s short- and long-term housing strategy. The center projects that North Dakota’s population will increase 25% by 2025, and that housing demand will increase nearly 30% in the same period. To emphasize the specific needs of the state’s homeless population, NDCHP worked with the Rural Community Assistance Corporation to conduct a State Homeless Analysis, which drew on more than 170 interviews with homeless providers and data from a July 2011 survey of homeless people in the state. NDHFA’s director requested that a summary of this analysis be included in the Statewide Housing Assessment Report.
During the upcoming legislative session, NDCHP will urge that homeless assistance provisions, similar to the federal Homeless Prevention and Rapid Re-Housing Program, be implemented in the next biennium. Included in the HIF statute, these provisions were downplayed in the fund’s allocation plan to allow for a greater focus on housing development in oil-producing counties and disaster-affected areas. Now that funding is likely to increase, NDCHP will push for some HIF funds to be used for homeless assistance and prevention.
The Housing Alliance of North Dakota (HAND), a statewide housing network in which NDCHP plays a key role, will continue its efforts to encourage Governor Dalrymple to adopt a statewide policy that incorporates a balanced approach to housing development. The local chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Organizations (NAHRO) contacted the governor in support of extending and expanding the HIF, and NDCHP, HAND and NAHRO continue to collaborate in these efforts.
“The answer to homelessness is homes,” said Michael Carbone, NDCHP’s executive director. “The HIF is creating sorely needed affordable housing in North Dakota, but still is not keeping pace with demand. We must continue the fight to house North Dakota’s most vulnerable people.”
For more information, contact Michael Carbone at firstname.lastname@example.org.