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HFA director: Still a need for affordable housing

Dave Thompson
Prairie Public

The director of North Dakota’s Housing Finance Agency hopes to continue the state’s “Housing Incentive Program.”

The program helps developers go ahead with affordable housing projects by providing them state income tax credits.

"Obviously, we believe the Incentive Fund has been a very valuable tool in creating affordable housing," Jolene Kline told the state Industrial Commission.

The fund was originally created to help build housing for "essential workers" during the oil boom.  The concern was higher rents made housing unaffordable -- and could cause some of those workers to move away.  The program now includes all kinds of affordable housing needs.

Kline told the Industrial Commission the program had $40 million in 2015-2017 -- $30 million in tax breaks, and a contingent $10 million from the Bank of North Dakota. She said a bill now pending in the Legislature would keep that $40 million figure for the next two years -- $20 million in tax breaks and $20 million from the General Fund.

Kline said the need is still there.

"Our statewide housing assessment needs survey shows we have a significant anticipated growth in the number of seniors, as well as people with disabilities, and our lowest wage earners," said Kline.

Kline said even if the amount is lowered, she wants to see that program continued – and that’s the message the Industrial Commission wants her to give state lawmakers.

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