More Affordable Housing Being Built to Meet Demand in North Dakota

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Fifty-four thousand North Dakota households make less than 18,000 a year.

And that puts a decent home out of the budget.

Rent is one cost not everyone has the luxury to cut.

More than 14 percent of North Dakotans aren’t making the more than 15 dollars an hour needed to afford to live in the state.

“It is the lower paid wage owners the retail, the food industry, the hotel industry, those kinds of workers where they’re making $10-12 an hour they’re the ones who are really struggling,” Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency says.

Finance experts say you should spend no more than 30 percent of your income on rent alone.
But for many North Dakotans in the open rental market that’s just not an option.

“They can afford to pay about $435 dollars a month in rent most of the apartments out there that are market rate are $800 dollars a month,” Brent Ekstrom, Lewis and Clark Development Group says.

Which leaves many North Dakota families spending much more than they can afford with less going towards other needs like food, transportation, and healthcare.

“And if you’ve got to make choices between rent and health care your health care is theoretically going to go down,” Kline says.

To meet the demand more affordable housing is being built.

Projects like the one repurposing Mandan’s old junior high that are working to create more affordable housing for North Dakota residents.

But, although rent will be lower on these properties, that doesn’t mean they cost less to build.

That’s where state and federal tax breaks and grants are used to help cover some of the cost of the builds.

“Without the tax credits and without these programs, you can’t build. You can’t lower those rates far enough to where it can make it affordable for a person that’s making $18,000 or $30,000 dollars a year,” Ekstrom says.

To give the 54,000 households in the state who need it the chance to live in a home they can afford.

The Mandan Junior High building is set to start construction within the next few months.

It will provide 39 units for families who qualify for low incoming housing.

Copyright 2020 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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