Advocates across North Dakota celebrated the establishment of a Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) after years of work as part of a broad-based coalition called the Housing Alliance of North Dakota (HAND). For several years, advocates educated policy makers on the state’s need for affordable housing funding.
With support from the Housing Trust Fund Project of the Center for Community Change and leadership from the North Dakota Coalition for Homeless People (NDCHP) and other groups, the HIF is now able to provide funds for the development and preservation of affordable housing, as well as provide money for emergency rental assistance and supportive housing services. The NLIHCs Executive Committee will consider NDCHP’s application to become a state coalition partner when it meets on October 27, 2011.
NDCHP is a statewide organization with a diverse membership, including homeless shelters, providers of transitional and supportive housing, domestic violence shelters, housing authorities, and community housing development agencies. Established in 1988, NDCHP coordinates and supports efforts to meet the housing and other basic needs of homeless people, while also providing a voice for North Dakota residents experiencing homelessness.
Paradoxically, North Dakota’s booming economy has exacerbated homelessness and the shortage of affordable housing in that state. As population growth occurs in response to job opportunities created by North Dakota’s oil reserves, housing vacancy rates have sharply decreased, rents have increased, and the state has become focused on increasing the stock of workforce housing. “Development of workforce housing is crucial in our state right now,” said Michael Carbone, NDCHP’s Executive Director. “However, it is also critical to ensure supportive housing needs and the needs of very low income and extremely low income households are not overlooked. Continuing to address the needs of those populations is one of our major priorities.”
The HIF is capitalized by contributions from taxpayers who receive tax credits in exchange for their contribution which can be claimed over a five year period. The legislation allows for a maximum of $4 million in HIF tax credits in 2011 and 2012. Half of the funds generated by the HIF must be used to create or preserve housing for households with incomes at or below 50% of the area median. A quarter of HIF revenue is reserved for communities with a population under 10,000 people.
“We were advocating for a dedicated source of funding, but were not able to get it,” said Carbone. “A dedicated source of funding that allows for direct grants or loans for affordable housing remains one of our priorities.” HIF offers tax credit purchasers the unique option of requesting their money be directed to a specific project, or to leave the distribution of funds up to the discretion of the state’s housing finance agency. “It remains to be seen how this formula will play out, but right now we are optimistic about the potential to have the formula prioritize the housing needs of those with the lowest income,” said Carbone.
NDCHP has also prioritized preservation of federally subsidized housing. “As a result of our economy, low income properties are opting out as quickly as they can,” Carbone said. “We are assessing the number of units we expect to opt out as well as the number of new units scheduled for development and the amount of additional units needed to meet demand.”
“In the past several years, we have accomplished a lot to be proud of, but there is also much work that remains, and we are excited about the potential of a partnership with NLIHC on federal issues that impact our work across North Dakota,” said Carbone.
For more information, contact Michael Carbone at email@example.com.