Today, a forum was held to discuss what is being done to make rent more affordable. The event was hosted by the The Dakota Center for Independent Living with the hopes of connecting policy makers with the public.
The room was filled with concerned citizens, some who traveled from Williston. They voiced their concerns about exorbitant rent prices face to face with Legislators.
“It will put a face to the policy makers of the individuals who are having the issues,” says Royce Schultze of the Dakota Center for Independent Living.
One of those faces is Fred Hellman.
“In March of 2013, I applied for apartments in the Bismarck Mandan area. I was in a nursing home, and I finally got out of there July 29. It took that long to find an apartment,” says Hellman.
He said the issue he faced was finding something affordable.
According to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency the median cost of a one bedroom apartment in Bismarck is between $900 and $1,200.
In Williston it’s about $13,000.
“Affordable housing is challenging and that’s because the costs are the same to develop market rate or affordable housing. Developers are tasked with how to get the rents to affordable levels,” says Jennifer Henderson of the agency.
Henderson says that some relief can be provided by development subsidies and utilizing existing grant programs. Nearly 16,000 additional housing units are needed to meet statewide demand in the next two years.