Incentive Fund helps ease housing shortageIndividuals and businesses can help ease western North Dakota’s housing crisis. The Housing Incentive Fund, a new incentive created by the Legislature, allows taxpayers, banks and companies to receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit by contributing toward affordable rental housing projects.
By: By Amy Dalrymple , Forum Communications Co. , The Jamestown Sun
WILLISTON, N.D. — Individuals and businesses can help ease western North Dakota’s housing crisis.
The Housing Incentive Fund, a new incentive created by the Legislature, allows taxpayers, banks and companies to receive a dollar-for-dollar state tax credit by contributing toward affordable rental housing projects.
The incentive aims to help low-income residents and “Main Street” workers such as cashiers, waitresses, bank tellers and others who don’t meet typical low-income qualifications but can’t afford Oil Patch rent.
“In western North Dakota in particular, they’re being housing challenged as much as anybody,” said Mike Anderson, executive director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.
The agency has pledged about $11 million toward 570 new rental units. Another $4 million in funding will be awarded in a June 30 funding round.
But some projects may be delayed if taxpayers don’t step up.
About $6.5 million has been raised so far, with the bulk of the contributions occurring last fall and last winter at the end of the tax year, Anderson said.
There’s been a lull in contributions this year, likely because people don’t think about their taxes until the end of the year, he said. That may delay some projects.
“The construction season is here and projects are going to have to wait until we get the money,” Anderson said.
Jessica Thomasson, director of Lutheran Social Services Housing, said the fund is an innovative tool that is being used in projects that could be completed as soon as this fall and winter.
“It’s turning into a really critical source of project financing for us in a number of communities,” Thomasson said.
Supporters can request that their funds be used in a certain part of the state or for a certain project.
Ninety percent of the funds are for energy-impacted areas or areas with a disaster declaration. The other 10 percent is available for the rest of the state.
Most donations so far have come from individuals, and the largest donations have come from businesses, Anderson said. The largest contributor is Marathon Oil, which contributed $2.5 million.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple promoted the fund to oil industry officials and others who attended the recent Williston Basin Petroleum Conference.
Amy Dalrymple is a Forum Communications Co. reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.