As we start our journey in 2011, we need to reflect on what changes we saw in 2010 and how 2011 looks. Last year brought numerous changes to the housing authority; staffing changes, location change, increased demand, and a housing crunch. SCHA experienced a surge in applications that eclipsed the waiting list record of 38 households, topping out at just over 200 households. The national economy and western ND growth spurred secondary demands for housing in our area. New companies, growth, and developing jobs made Stutsman & Logan Counties areas of demand. SCHA dipped into a reserve account to help as many households as possible.
Currently, there are plenty of apartments available in Stutsman County, but that may change as construction and economic development gears up this spring. SCHA is currently on a freeze on adding any new clients because of the funding crunch. HUD and the Federal government allocate $98,515 each month to SCHA for housing assistance payments. SCHA exceeded that amount in 2010 and needed to get back to its base allocation in order to maintain proper reserves. The Federal government is running on continuing resolutions, which means there is no real budget for the calendar year 2011. We are being allocated the same funds as last year, despite the need for more funding. The same dollars we have this year support fewer households than last year at this time. Larger households, decreasing household incomes, and increased rent costs require more dollars than before. The newly elected U.S. Congress is in a cutting mode, and even housing programs may face cuts in the coming years. At this time, we know we have funding for January, February, and March, but beyond that is anyone’s guess.
We expect the off & on housing shortage to continue in Stutsman County in 2011 and beyond. As the national economy improves, we may see less demand from outside our region. Hopefully, we will have an answer to the Federal Budget soon, and can better prepare our communities for what assistance we can provide in 2011.