March 20, 2019

Oil patch still facing a housing crunch

By Bilal Suleiman
ND Newspaper Association

At the height of the oil boom during the earlier part of the decade, North Dakota was making national headlines as average rent prices skyrocketed upwards of $2,000 in Williston, more expensive than average prices in New York and San Francisco at the time.
Oil activity has slowed since then, but housing availability has not been quick to follow. A program created at the time is seeking additional funds from the state, which housing authorities say will help close the gap.
“The Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) was created in the 2011 legislative session,” says Jolene Kline, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency. “In the 2017 session they made the program permanent, but they didn’t put any funding in because that was just a tough budgetary time. Now there’s an effort to put some dollars back in.”
Senate Bill 2271, which is in the House awaiting a committee vote, would replenish the HIF from the state’s coffers.
Kline said the Housing Finance Agency has created a little over 2,500 units since its inception. She believes that with $40 million in additional funding, the agency could create 800 additional housing units across the state over the next biennium.

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