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Apartments going up in Belfield, designed to keep rent down

A nonprofit organization plans to build apartments in Belfield for low and moderate-income families, officials said Thursday.

"Belfield certainly has housing needs that they're working hard to meet," said Jessica Thomasson, Fargo-based Lutheran Social Services housing director. "Affordable housing is just another way we are trying to serve family and community needs."

LSS will build eight two-bedroom and four three-bedroom apartment units in Belfield. The project is estimated at $1.5 million and is expected to be complete next fall.

Thomasson said apartment rent will range from $500 to $900. Federal funds lower rent prices, said Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency planning and housing development division director in Bismarck.

"Lower debt service means lower rent payments," Kline said.

North Dakota received $19.6 million in funds recently from Neighborhood Stabilization Program -- a program created by the Housing and Economic Recovery Act. LSS received a $750,000 grant from the program.

Oil production has caused a high demand for housing in North Dakota, Kline said. She added the Minot flood has also caused rent to rise.

"We at the agency think it is critical to keep up with the needs of those with lower income," Kline said. "It's difficult to keep a community moving forward without having adequate housing for those workers."

Belfield City Council member Jeff Iverson said affordable housing is needed in Belfield.

"You have your local teacher and city workers and they are going to need places to live," Iverson said. "You always hear the stories that they're kicked out or their rent is raised so high they can't afford it


Rural communities tend to be underserved, Thomasson said, where LSS has been focusing its efforts.

"If you have an affordable, quality place to live, that family can choose not only to work in those communities but to also live there and make it their home for the long-term," Thomasson said.

LSS CEO Robert Sanderson said it was important to develop affordable housing "for the sake of the people who need affordable housing and to help contribute to communities to remain viable."

"We are filling a gap that probably wouldn't be filled otherwise," Sanderson said.

Kline said the funds won't completely eliminate housing needs, but it will help.

"The needs are so strong out there that this isn't going to solve your problems, but it's a start," Kline said.

Thomasson said LSS will start construction on the apartments as soon as weather allows next season.