State aid for flood victims

A $1.5 million state grant to Minot Housing Authority and new loan opportunities for displaced residents could help some flood victims find permanent homes, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said in Minot Thursday.

The Legislature appropriated $1.5 million to help establish long-term housing at Virgil Workman Village, the temporary housing site of the Federal Emergency Management Agency. If the program comes to fruition, the housing authority would operate a mobile home park with temporary housing units donated by FEMA.

Residents of the units also could buy their units and locate in the park. Under legislation approved this past session, residents can obtain loans through the Rebuilders Loan program to buy their units.

“We have used that program in a creative way, I think, to finish the transition out of the temporary housing situation,” Dalrymple said. “We are trying to give people as many options as we possibly can so that nobody is actually evicted from a trailer or anyplace this summer and has to go to a different community from Minot.”

FEMA has notified people that their mission will end June 24, although the state has requested an extension to Sept. 24.

“Either way, it won’t be long before people will be told that FEMA is no longer going to rent them a trailer. They are going to have to make plans. Therefore, we have set up the Minot Housing Authority to step in and have the opportunity to continue that rental program on into the future,” Dalrymple said, explaining the purpose of the $1.5 million grant.

“That money is needed for the transition,” he said. “There are costs involved with being a landlord, of course, and some of the initial rents are probably going to be quite modest. There’s a possibility that they would have to operate the park at a slight loss. We want to be sure that they are able to stay liquid in that enterprise for at least a couple of years if necessary.”

Tom Pearson, housing authority director, said the establishment of a mobile home park isn’t certain, but the state grant is a key component in advancing the project.

“This is going to be a large piece of the financial side,” he said. “Our every intention is to make it work.”

The housing authority continues to pursue other funding that would further increase the affordability of the housing to tenants.