Posted 12/04/13 (Wed)
By Kate Ruggles
Farmer Staff Writer
The North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund (HIF) has come through again for McKenzie County municipalities that are struggling to provide housing for their essential service personnel. Earlier in the year, HIF approved three projects that would help provide housing for essential service personnel in Watford City, the McKenzie Ranger District Station Apartments, Wolf Run Village, and McKenzie County Healthcare Systems employee housing projects.
Then recently, a second round of HIF grants approved $500,000 in funding for the Arrowhead Estates housing development in the city of Arnegard. The development will offer 16 three-bedroom, two-bathroom twin homes, eight of which will be reserved for essential service personnel and eight that will be available for anyone.
“When we found out this project had been approved, we approached three entities and were already over capacity,” states Bernie Biegler of Big Mountain Homes, and the man in charge of putting Arnegard’s housing development together.
He, along with Arnegard Mayor Virginia Elliot, approached the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department, the Alexander Public School District No. 2, along with making sure the city of Arnegard had the housing it needed for its essential service workers.
“This project will make housing available for our new Police Chief, so he can have a place for his family,” states Elliot. “Right now he is living in a man camp situation and he wants to bring his family out here. But he cannot find a place for all of them to live.”
Elliot also states that this housing project will give the city of Arnegard’s new auditor a home, and that both the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Department and the Alexander School District are excited and eager to reserve homes for their employees.
“We have far more demand for essential service personnel housing than we have availability,” states Biegler. “But that is what makes this HIF grant so necessary.”
Elliot states that when she discovered the state Housing Incentive Fund was awarding a second round of grants, she only had 10 days to submit an application.
She, along with Biegler, one of his employees, Rob Williams, and Mike Murphy, Arnegard Chief of Police, wrote the grant and submitted the application in enough time. And after a 30-day review policy, the city was awarded $500,000 in funding.
The only thing the city needs to do now, according to Elliot, is secure matching funding.
“We are a little behind the eight ball, too,” states Biegler.
According to Biegler, because Arnegard was awarded funding in the second round of grant approvals, most of the businesses and persons they have contacted to contribute have already committed to earlier approved projects in McKenzie County.
Biegler and Elliot have not given up, however.
“Funding of this magnitude is usually awarded to projects in bigger cities,” states Biegler. “Arnegard is one of the smallest cities to receive funding. And the fact that they have received the funding is going to be good for the city and the surrounding area.”
Biegler calls the HIF grant for the Arrowhead Estates development a win-win, because it will help to supply housing for essential personnel who work in municipalities in McKenzie County that are outside of Watford City.
The Arrowhead Estates, on top of the 16 twin homes, will also offer 30 residential homes, that will be part of a larger subdivision. The development will also be near the Arnegard City Park and will have great access to U.S. Highway 85.
Down the road, Biegler also plans to build two acres of commercial offices/living quarters.
The big concern now for Elliot and Biegler is the need to raise matching funds for the $500,000 HIF grant, before the end of the year. But they are both hopeful that people will step forward.
According to Biegler, contributing to the Housing Incentive Fund is a dollar for dollar tax credit, in which the taxpayer liabilities that residents would already be required to pay can be directed toward local HIF approved projects.
“It is an easy way to give back to your community, because you are already required to pay your state tax liability,” states Biegler.
Anyone who wants to make a contribution can contact Elliot, or go to the North Dakota Housing Incentive Fund website, where they can fill out an application and commit to help fund the Arrowhead Estates development in Arnegard, or other HIF projects in McKenzie County.