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Commerce, HFA gathering information on housing needs for HUD grant


North Dakota’s Commerce Department and the Housing Finance Agency hosted focus groups in Bismarck to gather information on community needs in housing.

The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development requires states to have a five-year Consolidated Plan, in order to be eligible to receive federal funding for housing programs.

Before the focus groups met, the Commerce Deaprtment and HFA held some regional meetings to discuss the issues surrounding housing.

"What we're seeing is affordable housing is a big issue," said Commerce Department Division of Community Services director Bonnie Malo. "The other issue we're seeing is day care."

Malo said the state receives about $3 million a year for affordable housing programs. She said the state also receives an "Emergency Situations Grant" for homeless programs. That amounts to about $400,000 a year.

"A lot of the issue with homelessness is people coming from out of state," Malo said. "And Bismarck, I would say, some of that is due because of the state Penitentiary, because they have people in the Pen, and they want to be close to family."

Malo said homelessness is a problem everywhere in North Dakota.

"The bigger cities have the highest population of homeless," Malo said.

Malo said state programs and money from HUD also help people get out of homelessness.

"We have rental assistance, to help them get into apartments, as well as other assistance to help people get into housing," Malo said.

The comments from the focus groups will be used to draft the state’s analysis to “Fair Housing Choice,” a part of the consolidated housing plan.

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