In Williams County, Median Rent for Two-Bedroom Apartment Increased 135 Percent over Last Six Years
Sen. Heidi Heitkamp announced higher Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loan limits for seven western North Dakota counties that better reflect the soaring housing costs across the region.
The raised ceiling will allow more low-to-middle income families, first-time home buyers, and seniors to afford to put a roof over their heads, which has become increasingly out of reach as a result of the state’s housing shortage and skyrocketing rents. Over the last six years, Williams County has seen a 135 percent increase in median rent for a two-bedroom apartment.
After Heitkamp brought the head of the federal agency overseeing housing issues to North Dakota in October, the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s (HUD) FHA this week determined that Burleigh, McKenzie, Morton, Oliver, Sioux, Stark, and Williams counties – which have felt some of the greatest impact from the state’s housing shortage – needed higher FHA loan thresholds to make home buying more practical for families. These levels, which will go into effect on January 1, 2015, increased in each of the seven counties from 2014. For the past two years, Heitkamp has pushed for greater attention from HUD to North Dakota’s unique situation, so that North Dakota families can obtain safe and affordable housing.
“The struggles our families face trying to find adequate housing that doesn’t break the bank is real – and it’s a crisis we must address,” said Heitkamp. “For years, our state’s oil and gas boom has been driving up the demand for housing across the state, particularly out west, but we have to make sure families can keep up. That’s why I’ve been pushing our federal agencies to pay more attention to our state’s housing shortage. When I brought Secretary Castro to Williston this fall, he saw the impact of our energy boom – and his agency increased the ceiling for next year’s FHA loans, showing a stronger federal commitment to finding affordable housing solutions for North Dakotans. Every hardworking family deserves a safe, affordable home, and I’ll keep working to make that possible.”
Heitkamp has consistently fought for affordable housing for all North Dakota families. As a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs, she regularly advocates for policies and financially sound methods that enable individuals and families to obtain practical housing in a safe, achievable way.
This fall, Heitkamp brought HUD Secretary Julián Castro to Williston to see how cities out west are struggling to keep up with its booming population and growing demand for housing. During the visit, Castro announced HUD’s newly approved emergency waivers to provide public housing authorities in North Dakota with cost flexibility to more accurately reflect the needs of North Dakotan residents – an issue which Heitkamp had pressed Castro about in September.
In 2013, Heitkamp also worked with HUD to see that Fair Market Rents (FMR) were increased to appropriate levels for areas of North Dakota where rents have quickly spiked and families need assistance to afford housing. As a result of her efforts, new FMRs were set for Ward, Mountrail, and Williams counties for 2013.
Heitkamp has also worked to raise awareness about North Dakota’s unique housing needs and hear from North Dakotans about the housing challenges they face. In March 2013, Heitkamp held meetings across North Dakota with local, state, and federal officials to hear about their housing situations and discuss ideas to address the unique housing issues across the state. She also held housing summits in Mandan and Fargo last year to bring about a larger discussion about housing issues in the state.