Housing for Chronically Homeless Individuals Underway

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BISMARCK, ND – Construction has begun on Edwinton Place, a Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH) project that will offer stable housing and support services for 40 individuals who have experienced chronic homelessness in the Bismarck area. The approach that will be utilized is called ‘Housing First’.

“Through the Housing First model, some of the barriers to rental housing entry are set aside. The individual is provided with a permanent, stable home and then support services are offered to address the underlying causes of their homelessness,” said Dwight Barden, Burleigh County Housing Authority (BCHA) executive director.

Chronically homeless individuals typically have mental health or substance abuse issues, a chronic health condition, or a history of physical or sexual abuse. The need to provide supportive housing for these individuals was first discussed in 2008 in Bismarck-Mandan’s 10-Year Plan to End Homeless. Since that time, local service providers have been planning and educating key stakeholders to gain support for a PSH development. As an experienced provider of affordable housing, BCHA agreed to take the lead and be the owner and manager of the property.

BCHA has partnered with Beyond Shelter Inc. (BSI), a nonprofit developer of affordable housing to develop Edwinton Place. “Beyond Shelter focuses on providing housing for the lowest income households in a community, the people whose needs are typically overlooked,” said BSI CEO Dan Madler. “The underlying causes of chronic homeless not only negatively affects an individual’s ability to be successful in traditional rental housing, these issues are also very costly to the community.”

Chronically homeless individuals are frequent users of emergency services which can cost a community $30,000 to $50,000 per year per individual. Providing these individuals with immediate access to housing is estimated to save a community up to 40 percent of the total cost of experiencing chronic homelessness.

“North Dakota Housing Finance Agency has prioritized the use of our development resources, focusing on permanent supportive housing to help address chronic homelessness in North Dakota,” said Jolene Kline, North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) executive director.

Funding commitments provided by NDHFA will cover the majority of Edwinton Place’s development costs. The state agency awarded federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will provide the project with $7.2 million in equity, and awarded $1,026,147 from the National Housing Trust Fund, $500,000 from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund and $460,000 from the Neighborhood Stabilization III Program. The total project cost is $10.3 million.

Edwinton Place also received support from the City of Bismarck, in agreement with Burleigh County and the Bismarck Public School District, a 20-year Payment in Lieu of Taxes for the property valued at more than $2 million. The North Dakota Department of Commerce committed $730,000 through the Neighborhood Stabilization I Program for land acquisition. Through Bank of North Dakota, the Federal Home Loan Bank awarded $750,000 from the Affordable Housing Program, and the Otto Bremer Trust committed $62,000 to help cover pre-development costs. The project’s construction financing will be provided by Gate City Bank.

Edwinton Place is being built on an infill lot just south of Bismarck Expressway and is within an Opportunity Zone designated by Gov. Burgum earlier this year. The four-story building will have a controlled entrance with 24/7 staffing. On the first floor, offices, meeting rooms and an exam room will allow for services to be provided at the site. The upper floors will be made up of 40 one-bedroom/one-bath apartments. Eight of the units will be fully accessible for persons with a physical disability. All of the units will be furnished. The developers anticipate that the property will be complete by next fall.

The tenants will be selected in partnership with the local Coordinated Entry System which is operated by agencies that provide service to people who are homeless. Project-Based Housing Choice Vouchers will be provided by BCHA to assure the affordability of the units for the extremely low-income tenants.

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