Addressing the Region's Housing Dilemma
Addressing the Region's Housing Dilemma
By now, you have likely heard there is a housing dilemma in our region. Extreme disproportion of housing supply and demand, coupled with rising prices is causing concern in our community. On July 13th, we heard from local experts who explained why this housing dilemma is problematic for a community like ours experiencing tremendous growth and a workforce shortage.
As a follow up to this conversation, we connected with local organizations that are working on the housing issue we are facing to see how they are addressing this immense need in our community.
United Way of Cass-Clay – Thomas Hill, Vice President of Community Impact
“United Way improves lives by activating resources to solve complex community issues and create lasting social change. We tackle the source, not just the symptoms, of our community's biggest challenges. We take a community-wide view of the issues. By bringing together community partners, data, and innovation, we work to find and establish processes for long-term, sustainable solutions.
One of our community’s most pressing issues is homelessness and lack of stability for families in need. Innovation is important to us – instead of trying to solve a problem that exists, we are working to prevent the problem from ever happening. The solution is as simple as providing the right help at the right time. We have been leading efforts, along with the FM Coalition to End Homelessness and Presentation Partners in Housing, to plan and implement a robust system of prevention and diversion for families experiencing or at-risk of becoming homeless. We firmly believe the foundation for a better life is built on housing and having the ability to get and maintain a good paying job.
The way to end homelessness is to prevent it from happening, when possible. Our goal is to prevent 90% of families from experiencing homelessness by 2023.”
Beyond Shelter – Lisa Rotvold, Development Director
“Beyond Shelter, Inc., a Fargo based charitable non-profit organization, has been developing affordable housing for 22 years. To date we have developed 45 properties, creating more than 1,360 affordable homes for low-income households. While BSI develops and operates its own rental housing, we also help other non-profits develop affordable housing for their clients. Grace Garden, owned and operated by the YWCA Cass Clay, is one example. The beautiful new Monterey Apartments and Brighton Place on Sheyenne Street in West Fargo, operated by the Housing Authority of Cass County, is another. In 2021 three new BSI developed properties, with a total development cost of $29 million, will open providing 124 affordable rental homes. Two more properties, with 92 homes and a total development cost of $25 million, are under construction and will open in 2022. BSI has helped eight tenants to become homeowners with our rent rebate for homeownership program. Another 30 BSI tenants will have an opportunity for homeownership through our lease purchase program. BSI is proud to serve the Fargo- Moorhead community and beyond. We live and breathe our mission of, “Improving lives and creating communities by developing and sustaining housing for those most in need,” every day.”
Cass Clay Community Land Trust – Trenton Gerads, Executive Director
“Cass Clay Community Land Trust is a non-profit organization created as a response to Fargo-Moorhead’s need for affordable workforce housing. Rapid growth in the area’s population combined with a strong economic base fueled a sustained surge in housing values and created a shortage of affordably priced owner-occupied homes and rental housing. For every $1,000 increase in the price of a home, 200 buyers are priced out and lose the opportunity to own a home of their own. Homebuyers who are often priced out of the housing market, the same working members of our community, now have access to homeownership and its benefits.
By developing new homes and rehabilitating existing homes, Cass Clay CLT is creating more affordable housing options for our community’s working households. We ensure affordability by using subsidies to buy down the purchase price of the home. Each homeowner signs a ground lease and gains the benefits of owning a home, most importantly building equity, and joining the community. If and when they decide to sell, the homeowner passes on the same opportunity of homeownership through a shared equity model. The land trust’s shared-equity model provides a unique opportunity to create upward mobility while converting individuals from renters to owners resulting in a clear and measurable social benefit.
Cass Clay CLT works with public and private partners to achieve its mission to preserve and advance access to sustainable affordable homeownership as a means to create a stronger community.”
Rebuilding Together – Cassie Skalicky, Executive Director
“At Rebuilding Together Fargo-Moorhead Area (RTFMA) we believe that every person deserves to have a safe, healthy, and beautiful home that supports independence and ensures security and well-being. Whether it is due to age, disability, or financial constraints, there are times when a home becomes a house and the house becomes a barrier to healthy, independent living. RTFMA leverages financial and human resources to fulfill our mission: “Repairing homes, revitalizing communities, rebuilding lives.”
Our Handyman Program enlists volunteers to do basic home repairs for those who cannot. Jobs completed by our volunteers range from changing batteries in smoke detectors and replacing air filters in furnaces to small carpentry and basic plumbing projects. The Health and Safety Program makes independence possible for many neighbors in our communities. Volunteers and professionals do everything from installing handrails to replacing bathtubs with walk-in showers. Our Green Program reduces energy costs and provides eco-friendly solutions for older homes needing attention. This includes repairing or installing items such as windows, doors, roofs, siding, and insulation. It is truly an honor to help our neighbors who are aging, living with disabilities, are military veterans or survivors, or have financial restrictions, to live independently in their own homes.”
Habitat for Humanity – Jim Nelson, Executive Director
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of Lake Agassiz Habitat for Humanity which was founded in 1991. Since then, we’ve built 65 homes. We’re building 4 homes this year and planning 4 additional homes in 2022. As a Christian-based organization, we focus on providing safe, decent and affordable shelter for families in need throughout Cass and Clay County. Our mission is “…bringing people together to build homes, communities and hope.” Habitat homes are sold to qualified buyers at no profit, usually over a 30 year mortgage term. Affordable homeownership helps create the conditions that free families from instability and stress while encouraging self-reliance and confidence. Owning an affordable home allows homeowners to lift up their entire family resulting in multi-generational transformation.
Locally, the cost of housing continues to increase at a very fast pace resulting in even fewer affordable homes. By partnering with local municipalities and other nonprofit organizations we’re able to produce more affordable homes annually. For example, the combined cost of land and special assessments results in home prices that are simply beyond the reach of low-income families. Through federal grants to local municipalities, we receive community development funding which defrays these costs. Similarly, we have a long history of strong partnerships with many businesses and churches who share our mission and continue to support our vision, “…where everyone deserves a decent place to live.”
Habitat International works in all 50 states and in more than 70 countries helping more than 35 million people achieve strength, stability and independence through safe, decent and affordable shelter. Today, more than 2 million Habitat volunteers a year build, advocate and raise awareness about the global need for shelter.”
While we know the housing issue is far from over, we are proud to support the work of these organizations and are confident our community will overcome these housing struggles, positioning our region for sustainable growth and success for generations to come.