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ND Prepares for Deeper Dive Into Housing, Other Needs

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Tuesday, May 23, 2023   

May is Community Action Month, and in North Dakota, groups trying to help households escape poverty are gathering feedback on which obstacles are the biggest. It coincides with potential legislative efforts to study housing barriers. Census data show that in 2021, more than 11% of North Dakotans were living in poverty. That is a slight increase from the previous year.

Andrea Olson, Executive Director of Community Action Partnership of North Dakota, which leads offices around the state in linking low-income residents with supportive programs, said their periodic needs assessments allow reliable data to be included in policy discussions for all levels of government.

"We can flesh out the details at a county level, we can flesh out the details regionally, and statewide. Perhaps there are new programs that could be created - streamlined collaboration that could happen," she said.

Olson added affordable housing topped the recent survey, and so far, it is being mentioned a lot in the current assessment. Residents have until the end of June to participate in the new survey, which is found on the CAP-ND website. Meanwhile, this Thursday, a legislative body will decide which studies proposed in the recent session to adopt, including one dealing with housing-access issues.

That pending decision follows a recent announcement from the state's Rent Help program that it is scaling down applications for aid. Strong demand drew down the available funds from federal pandemic-relief bills.

Rep. Josh Boschee, D-Fargo, is proposing the housing study, which he said would take a holistic approach.

"What resources are out there for tenants' rights when it comes to evaluating their contracts? What kind of financial supports are available? And then the conversation has expanded with others, in terms of affordable homeownership," he said.

Boschee added the study would also look at what has worked with Rent Help and what has not, in hopes of carving out long-term solutions for renters. His proposal has bipartisan support, but it is unclear the state's legislative management will choose it for an interim study between sessions.

Disclosure: Community Action Partnership of North Dakota contributes to our fund for reporting on Budget Policy & Priorities, Health Issues, Housing/Homelessness, Hunger/Food/Nutrition. If you would like to help support news in the public interest, click here.


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