Partners host a ceremonial ground breaking at the former Williston Junior High School

WILLISTON, ND – Lutheran Social Services Housing, Enterprise Community Investment, Inc. and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency (NDHFA) hosted a ceremonial ground breaking at the former Williston Junior High School, 612 1st Avenue West, on Tuesday. The event marked the beginning of the building’s conversion to affordable rental housing for households age 55 and older.

“The work being spearheaded by Lutheran Social Services Housing and other affordable housing projects underway in Williston are critical in meeting the needs of this rapidly growing community,” said Lt. Governor Drew Wrigley, who attended the ground breaking. “We will continue to seek out and forge more productive partnerships like this to bring additional affordable housing to western North Dakota.”

The $10.6 million redevelopment is supported by federal, state and local government funding. The primary source of the project funds is $7.1 million in equity provided by Enterprise. The organization purchased the Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) allocated to the project by NDHFA.

“Over the past 30 years, Enterprise has invested in thousands of affordable housing units across the country but none as important as these senior living apartments at Lutheran Social Services Legacy Living-Williston," said Russell Kaney, programs director of Enterprise's National Rural & Native American Initiative. "We are proud to partner with Lutheran Social Services Housing in turning an underutilized historic building into a vibrant community asset.”

Through LIHTC, property owners receive an annual federal tax credit for up to 10 years based on various requirements such as the amount of capital invested and the level of commitment to low-income tenancy. The property also benefited from Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives issued by the National Parks Service/U.S. Department of Interior, which were purchased and syndicated by Enterprise.

“Lutheran Social Services Housing’s mission is to create housing for individuals and families of modest means,” said Jessica Thomasson, program director. “We are very fortunate to be able to work with other likeminded organizations and agencies that support our efforts.” NDHFA provided additional project support through a $200,000 allocation from the state’s Housing Incentive Fund and $365,600 in Neighborhood Stabilization Program dollars. “NDHFA’s financial support leverages other investments, making the development of affordable housing feasible,” said Mike Anderson, NDHFA executive director.

Other key partners in the project include the City of Williston, North Dakota Department of Commerce, USDA Rural Development, First International Bank & Trust, and Lancaster Pollard. The development will consist of 28 one-bedroom and 16 two-bedroom apartments that will rent for $330 - $780 per month depending on income and household size. All of the units will offer senior-friendly features and services. Three apartments will be handicapped accessible. Lutheran Social Services Housing anticipates that the redevelopment project will be completed by December 2013. They will begin taking rental applications three to four months before the project is completed.

Lutheran Social Services Housing, a subsidiary of Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota, supports the continued vitality of North Dakota’s communities by providing affordable housing and housing-related services, with eight rental housing projects currently completed and under management, and several other projects in various stages of development.

Lutheran Social Services of North Dakota is a statewide social services agency serving thousands of North Dakotans in need with affordable housing, food, disaster recovery, counseling and therapy and other programs that strengthen individuals, families and communities without regard to clients’ race, religion, gender or economic status.

Enterprise is a leading provider of the development capital and expertise it takes to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities. For 30 years, Enterprise has introduced neighborhood solutions through public-private partnerships with financial institutions, governments, community organizations and others that share their vision. Enterprise has raised and invested more than $11.5 billion in equity, grants and loans to help build or preserve nearly 300,000 affordable rental and for-sale homes to create vital communities. The Industrial Commission of North Dakota, consisting of Governor Jack Dalrymple as chairman, Agriculture Commissioner Doug Goehring and Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, oversees NDHFA.