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Wendy Reuer, Published November 15 2013

Gate City gives $3 million to state for low-income housing; Fargo-based bank to get dollar-for-dollar tax credit

FARGO – A $3 million donation from Gate City Bank to the state’s Housing Incentive Fund will help the organization build about 500 housing units for seniors, service workers and the homeless here and in six other cities.

The fund – which promotes multifamily housing for service workers and low-income residents – was created by the state Legislature in 2011 to offer incentives for building affordable housing.

It provides up to $3 million, or 30 percent of the cost of new apartment and rental units, to reduce developers’ debt so they can set cheaper rental rates.

Lawmakers set aside $35 million for the program earlier this year, all of which has already been committed to projects.

Individuals and businesses that support the projects receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit for their contribution.

Gate City’s donation announced Friday makes the bank the largest single contributor to the housing fund this year. The fund has raised about $11 million in private money since the Legislature’s authorization earlier this year, said Jolene Kline, acting director of the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, which oversees the fund.

“(North Dakota) is where we were founded and definitely where we’re rooted,” said Kim Meyer, executive vice president of human resources and marketing at Gate City Bank, which is based in Fargo and has 34 branches in North Dakota and Minnesota. “That’s why many of the projects that we chose for this contribution are located in communities that we serve.”

Kline said about 90 percent of the projects in 2011 and 2012 were in western North Dakota’s booming Oil Patch. After the 2013 Legislature renewed the program, 34 projects across the state were approved in June and August.

“(The projects) do not have that geographic focus on Oil Country because the state believes there is a statewide housing shortage,” Kline said.

The 34 projects will create 934 housing units, and one-third of the projects will give housing to special needs households such as the disabled, homeless and elderly, Kline said.

Earlier this year, Gate City Bank gave $1.25 million to the Housing Incentive Fund to support a Williston State College Foundation project to provide housing for essential service workers, a family-friendly development in downtown Williston, an apartment complex for individuals with disabilities in Bowman and senior housing in Devils Lake.

Friday’s donation of $3 million will be divided among a senior housing development planned in Fargo and projects in Bismarck, Devils Lake, Hettinger, Jamestown, Mandan and Minot.

Lawmakers allocated $15.4 million to the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency and authorized it to use $20 million in state tax credits to support its fundraising efforts. It means Gate City will receive $3 million in state income tax credit for its $3 million donation.

“(Gate City Bank officials) were very clear they weren’t doing it just for the income tax credit,” Kline said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Wendy Reuer at (701) 241-5530