Program Brings Affordable Housing to the Heart of the Boom
The North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) is bringing affordable rental housing to the heart of the state’s energy boom. Big Mountain Development and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA), administrator of the state program, celebrated the development of Arrowhead Estates in Arnegard, ND, today.
“Our focus initially was to sell homes to families as we believed that to be the greatest need, but the mayor and city council opened our eyes to the many people who simply cannot buy and must rent,” said developer Bernie Biegler. “The nurses and teachers we have visited with inquire about renting before they will even consider relocating to take a job.”
Big Mountain purchased the old city golf course in Arnegard, ND, in 2011 and was preparing the development for single-family housing when they were approached by Virginia Elliot, the former mayor of the community, and asked to provide affordable rental housing for essential service workers - individuals employed in education, medical and law enforcement professions.
“Providing adequate housing for our workforce is one of North Dakota’s greatest challenges,” said Jolene Kline, NDHFA executive director. “With the demand for development resources growing, more local, state and private dollars are needed to address North Dakota’s affordable housing needs.”
Located along Johnson Street and Fourth Avenue, Arrowhead Estates received more than $1 million in development assistance from the state allowing eight of the three-bedroom, two-bath units to be reserved for essential service workers (ESW) - income-qualified households employed in positions deemed essential community services. These units will rent for $713 to $1232 per month. The eight remaining units in the development will rent at market rate.
The placement of the subdivision seven miles west of Watford City, 12 miles from Alexander, and only 25 miles to Williston puts it in one of the most highly sought after areas in Western North Dakota says Biegler. He expects teachers from the McKenzie County School District #1 to be the first occupants of the ESW units.
“McKenzie County Public School District #1 has hired 44 new teachers and administrators over the past two years; it has been a real challenge hiring that number of employees and finding affordable housing to match starting teacher wages,” said Steven Holen, the district’s superintendent. “Without the availability of state-supported housing options, we simply would not be able to recruit or retain quality staff.”
Capitalized by contributions from state taxpayers, HIF provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable multifamily housing. Since the program’s inception in 2011, NDHFA has allocated $49 million to projects statewide, leveraging $240 million in construction financing to support the development of more than 1,500 new rental units.
A self-supporting agency, NDHFA 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 NDHFA.