BISMARCK, North Dakota — A $35 million fund approved by North Dakota lawmakers for low-income housing projects has run out of money in only four months because of strong demand, and not just in the west.
The need for affordable housing goes beyond the booming oil patch, said Jolene Kline, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.
"We have a statewide housing crisis that's moving farther east all the time," she said.
The Housing Incentive Fund is to help developers who pledge to build affordable and low-income housing, The Bismarck Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/1bhHQO8 ). Taxpayers who contribute are eligible for dollar-for-dollar state tax credits. During the previous two-year budget cycle, the program was capped at $15 million and consisted entirely of tax credits. The Legislature earlier this year expanded the program to include $20 million in tax credits and $15.4 million from the state general fund, which is supported by taxpayers.
The housing fund has allocated money to 34 projects.
"During this biennium, the Housing Incentive Fund will create 934 housing units, with 220 set aside for essential service workers and 481 income- and rent-restricted to low and extremely low income households," Kline said.
Essential service workers include those in occupations such as law enforcement, firefighting and teaching, all of which are in demand in the oil patch.
A total of nearly $153 million in housing construction is expected as a result of the housing fund.
"That's a pretty good leverage of state dollars," Kline said.
Rep. Jeff Delzer, R-Underwood, questioned some of the projects. Money has gone to projects in the eastern cities of Fargo, Grafton and Jamestown.
Kline said that with the growth in the oil patch, an increasing number of people are living in the central and eastern part of the state with their families and commuting to work.
"The issue is a statewide one," she said.
Information from: Bismarck Tribune, http://www.bismarcktribune.com