The Burleigh County Housing Authority has been awarded development assistance from the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency for its $9.5 million homeless housing project, known as the Edwinton Place project.

The BCHA received $813,000 from the federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, about $1 million from the federal National Housing Trust Fund, $460,000 from the federal Neighborhood Stabilization Program and $500,000 from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund.

Edwinton Place, to be constructed on South 11th Street in Bismarck, will provide 40 units of permanent supportive housing for the homeless. It will not provide emergency or temporary shelter.

Because project-based vouchers, which involve federal funding, will be provided to tenants to help pay their rent, sex offenders and some felons will not be allowed to live in the facility.

As a Housing First project, supportive services will be available, but tenants will not be required to use them.

"The theory is, once you get the individuals housed and stabilized, it might be easier to get them to buy into the services we will have available to them," said Dwight Barden, executive director of the BCHA.

“I think Edwinton Place will fill a certain need for a population that is desperately in need of help at this point in time,” he said. “It’s a step in the right direction.”

The agency is finalizing building plans and aims to put the Edwinton Place project out to bid in March 2018, with a June 2018 groundbreaking.

The BCHA was one of seven developers to receive funding commitments from the NDHFA this month. The Edge Artist Flats in Fargo, HomeField 2 Apartments in Fargo, Ellendale Apartments, Pure Downtown in Grand Forks, Dakota Heights in West Fargo and Grace Garden in West Fargo also received assistance.

The awards were made through three federal programs — $3.16 million in tax credit authority through the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, $2.72 million from the National Housing Trust Fund and $460,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization Program — as well as $2.65 million from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund.

Tough competition

The application process for each of the three federal programs, as well as the state program, is competitive, with the top-scoring projects receiving awards.

“We have a pretty competitive scoring process,” said Jolene Kline, executive director of the NDHFA. “The Edwinton Place project, providing 40 units of housing to the homeless, scored well.”

When applying for NDHFA assistance, each applicant must provide evidence there is a need for the type of housing proposed, that the community supports the development and that construction costs are reasonable.

“The projects the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency selected support the state’s efforts to address behavioral health and criminal justice issues, while ensuring North Dakota’s aging and disabled households and lower-wage workers have safe and affordable housing, as well,” Kline said.

“It’s costly to do these projects but, in the long run, they are cost-effective because they take people off the streets, saving cities the cost of emergency room and police visits,” she said. “They’re good projects for the individuals that live there and the cities that supply services for the homeless.”

The NDHFA will award development assistance again next fall.

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General Assignment Reporter