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Affordable housing comes to Belfield; serves dire area need

Jolene Kline, acting executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, speaks at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for new affordable housing in Belfield.

SVC Oilfield Services employee Josh Hitchcock lived in a 30-foot camper with his wife, newborn baby and other family members before a more affordable opportunity arose in Belfield.

The Hitchcocks are some of the new residents of Greenfield Heights Townhomes, an affordable housing development officially unveiled Tuesday. Aimed at community members who can't afford oil boom-induced rent, half of the $1.6 million development's units are restricted to households earning up to 120 percent of the area median income, or up to $71,880 for a three-person household in Stark County.

More than 50 people applied for spots in the development, illustrating the area's high demand -- and remaining need -- for affordable living. Residents started filling the units in April, and include employees of the school system and the Stark County Sheriff's Office.

"The biggest thing about this development ... is that it's not open-market rent," said Carmen Waldo of the Belfield Housing Authority. "There aren't that many affordable [options]."

The six income-based units range in rent from $525 to $775 monthly. In total, the development includes eight two-bedroom units and four three-bedroom units.

"They're really filling a niche," said Terry Johnson of the Belfield Housing Authority, which worked with Lutheran Social Services Housing Inc. and the North Dakota Housing Finance Authority to develop the project.

The NDHFA provided $750,000 through the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program and $225,000 in North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund tax credits. The Stark Development Corporation also provided funds, and the Great Plains National Bank gave permanent financing.

Belfield is also home to similar affordable housing exclusively for local law enforcement officials.