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Keeping elderly housing affordable

Posted 11/17/10 (Wed)

By Tina Foreman   
Farmer Staff Writer

In a time when housing is in high demand, most people who are thinking of selling are looking at a nice profit. But not everyone is selling to make big money.
Watford City Enterprises, a partnership which funded and built Watford City’s low income Hillside Court Apartments, recently decided it was time to end the partnership and sell the apartments, something many private investors probably would have paid top dollar to get their hands on. But instead of putting the apartments on the market, the partnership decided to go a different route.
“These apartments were built to help fulfill a need for public housing for the elderly,” says Wayne Sanford. “They have been operated for senior citizens and handicapped people since 1971 when they were built. That was the vision of the partnership’s founders and we felt that it was important to make sure that the buyer kept it that way.”
Watford City Enterprises was founded by Arnie J. Sanford, Herb Thorson, Harold Johnsrud and Gordon Ridle. Following each of the founders passing, their portion of the property was passed on to their children. Today, the partnership includes Delores Quale, David Sanford, Janice Sanford and the Arnie and Cora Sanford Estate.
“The apartments were operated through the McKenzie County Housing Authority,” says David Sanford. “Our role wasn’t that big. We just funded and built it. But with the current partners getting older, we decided it was time to dissolve the partnership or we could potentially end up with 22 partners. That’s just too many people to make good decisions.”
After making the decision to sell, the partnership was faced with the dilemma of making sure that the apartments could continue to be run as low income senior housing.
“Instead of putting the apartments on the market, we decided to approach the county about buying them,” adds David Sanford. “We knew that by selling the apartments to the county, we wouldn’t get near as much money as we would if we put them on the market, but that wasn’t what was important to us. We just wanted to make sure that the vision of the founders wasn’t lost in selling them.”
Knowing that the apartments are a great asset to the community, the McKenzie County Commissioners agreed to purchase the apartments.”
“It was really great of the county to make the purchase,” says David. “The plan is to have the housing authority continue to run the apartments with little or no change. I know that the original founders would be happy with this.”
The sale of the Hillside Court Apartments is expected to be finalized by the end of 2010.