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North Dakota awarded $7M for affordable housing: Federal funds to be distributed by state

WASHINGTON — North Dakota will receive more than $7 million in federal funds for affordable housing and homelessness prevention, Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced Wednesday.

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The money will be given to the state and allocated to different communities through the North Dakota Housing and Urban Development agency in order to help families who are finding it difficult to make ends meet, Heitkamp said in a statement.

“Finding decent, affordable housing in North Dakota is becoming increasingly difficult through the state, especially on Indian reservations,” said Heitkamp, D-N.D.

Heitkamp, a member of the Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee, traveled across North Dakota last year, visiting communities in Bismarck, Minot, Williston, Valley City, Dickinson and Fargo to discuss housing issues facing the state.

Housing demands will increase by 30 percent between 2010 and 2025, a 2012 Statewide Housing Needs Assessment found, with much of the housing crunch being felt on the oil-impacted western side of the state.

Elizabeth Schendel, an administrative assistant with the Stark County Housing Authority, said she hasn’t seen much of an increase in affordable housing around the county, even as the demand for it has gone up.

Affordable housing options in Dickinson include 16 low-income housing units at Cherry Hills and the 24 units in the Patterson Heights tax-credit building. About eight to 10 people are on the waitlist for units in Cherry Hills.

“The timetable is really hard to tell,” Schendel said, but the wait is “at least a year.”

Stark County Housing Authority also issues Section 8 vouchers to put toward rent, but Schendel said “it’s actually becoming pretty hard” to fill them.

“We aren’t able to find housing in that price range,” Schendel said. “It’s hard to find anything that will fit in those numbers.”

The federal funds came through a number of grants aimed to expand low-income housing options and end homelessness.