The final day of the 67th Legislative Assembly archived the end of a unique experience for state law makers and everyone else involved. Video testimony was the norm and committee hearings were live streamed. While the halls of the capital were far more idle than during a normal legislative session, decisions were still made in committee rooms that impacted North Dakota’s housing landscape.
During the session, legislators approved the transfer of the residential mortgage program from Bank of North Dakota (BND) and the federal HOME Program from the Dept. of Commerce (DOC) to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA). These new responsibilities will expand the breadth of both single- and multi-family services provided by the agency.
In addition to assuming its role as the state’s sole residential mortgage provider, the agency has been working with BND to receive approximately 2,300 loans from the bank’s servicing portfolio, effective as of April 1st. The transfer has been labor intensive for both agencies, but now that the loans are housed at NDHFA, residents will continue to receive outstanding customer service. The legislative assembly approved two new full-time positions at NDHFA to help manage the increased workload.
The transfer of the HOME program from DOC has been in the works since December and will officially occur on July 1st. HOME funding is an asset for affordable multifamily housing and moving the program to NDHFA will result in increased efficiencies and a streamlined application, closeout and reporting process for developers. North Dakota receives the small state minimum of $3 million annually. DOC also transferred two, full-time employees to the NDHFA roster.
After numerous rounds of testimony in both the House and the Senate, thanks must be given to the diligent effort of our affordable housing partners and champions in securing $9.5 million for the Housing Incentive Fund (HIF). Credit must also be given to the legislators who worked hard on both sides of the aisle and voted in favor of the state’s most flexible funding program for both urban and rural communities. Everyone’s efforts were invaluable in securing HIF funding this biennium.
One other marker of the session was discussion about bonding capabilities of the state. Thank you to the swift actions of our partners in helping communicate the need for NDHFA to be able to issue bonds as needed without public vote. While this particular bonding bill was quickly defeated, it reminded us to remain watchful of any legislation that may have an adverse effect on the way the agency conducts business.
And that’s a wrap for the 2021 legislative session. Thank you to everyone that took the time to make connections and voice your opinions.