The City of Grand Forks initiated this new process as a collaborative effort that emphasized public involvement. A survey was sent to nearly 60 agencies including: government, social services, housing, homeless services, economic development, health/medical, and services for disabled. Participants were asked to: 1) assign a priority rating to general community development needs; 2) assign a priority rating to activities in their area of expertise; and 3) identify needed projects. Results were presented to the Citizen Advisory Committee. The Committee also reviewed a local United Way needs assessment. It forwarded recommendations on community development priorities to the Urban Development Committee for further consideration. Survey results and the Urban Development recommendations were mailed to participants before final City Council action. Both the Citizens Advisory and the Urban Development Committees held hearings to obtain citizen input. A notice was published to announce the availability of the draft Plan. The draft Plan was sent to government offices, social service agencies, and interested parties to gain additional input.
The following overall goals will guide the City in its implementation of the Consolidated Plan and its future decision making its community development strategy:
Grand Forks is a regional center of commerce for northeast North Dakota, northwest Minnesota, and southern Manitoba. Its primary economic base is the production, processing, and trade of agricultural products; however, the City is also a center for retail trade, health care, and services with a trade area population of 200,000. Employment grew by nearly 23% in the early 1990's, and unemployment ranged from 2 to 5%. The University of North Dakota is a major employer, and its student population is now over 11,500. The GF Air Force Base, located 13 miles west of the City, has a military and civilian population of nearly 12,000. Both the University and Air Base have a major impact on housing and community development. The closure or downsizing of the Air Base remains a community concern.
Over the past decade, Grand Forks had a 13% increase in population; and by 1990, its population was 49,425. The Planning Commission projects an annual growth rate of .9% for the next few years. A major population trend has been the influx of people from outlying rural areas due to the depressed agricultural economy. Although this trend has diminished, it continues to impact the economy. The average number of persons per household dropped to 2.45 by 1990. The number of persons aged 65 and over grew by 23% during the past decade. This increase was attributable to the aging of the population and because many seniors move to larger cities to be near services. In 1990, over half of all households had children of 18 or younger. The predominant family type was the traditional nuclear family (84%), but single female headed households grew from 13% to 15% in 1990.
Although the 2,553 minority persons constitute only 5% of the total population, most minority groups grew at higher rates than the white population in the past decade. The minority population increased by 42% , and the Asian/Pacific Islander population had the highest growth rate (95%). This may be attributed to a new pilot training program at the University and refugee resettlement programs. Native Americans, the largest group, increased by 50% over the past decade. Nearly a fourth of all households earned less than 50% of the median income, and almost half met the definition of low and moderate income. Furthermore, over half of the Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander households had incomes less than 51% of the median income. The following table presents income data by type of household from the 1990 Census.
|Type of Household||No. of Households||Percent of All Households||Very Low Income: 0-50%
|Low Income: 51-80%
of median income
A United Way needs assessment in 1994 surveyed 400 residents and interviewed community leaders and representatives from human service agencies. Household respondents indicated that their top concern (63%) was the lack of affordable housing. A third also rated substandard housing as a problem. Nearly 80% of the leaders/service providers felt that long-term housing assistance was needed, and 63% rated housing rehabilitation as a concern. Both the 1990 Census and current housing data support these results.
Housing Market Conditions: The 1990 Census reported that Grand Forks had about 19,600 year round housing units, of which 1% lacked complete kitchen or plumbing. Rental property comprised 53% of the housing stock. Local estimates indicate that about 7% of rental units and 5% of owner occupied units are substandard and that 2% of the housing stock was unsuitable for rehabilitation. Suitable for rehabilitation is defined as a building that is structurally sound, on an acceptable site, and rehabilitation does not exceed 60% of its present value. According to the 1990 Census, rental units had a vacancy rate of 7.4%, while the rate for owner occupied housing was 1.1%. The GF Board of Realtors estimated that the vacancy rate for owner-occupied housing is at 1% or less. The GF Apartment Association's semi-annual survey indicated a marked decline in vacancy rates (see table below). Vacancy rates are traditionally higher in the summer when the University is not in full session.
Increased demand impacted the cost of housing. The average price of a single family home was $66,784 in 1993, but it grew to $75,000 by 1994. The average construction cost was $70-$74 per square foot in 1993-94, but estimates in 1995 were at $78/square foot. The cost for a lot currently ranges from $25,000 to $35,000, but two years ago it averaged $25,000. A recent study showed that increases in real rental rates were greater in 1988-93 than in the prior five years. The annual increase in real rental rates averaged 4.5% from 1988-93. The study documented a trend of significantly fewer apartment buildings being built.
Affordable Housing Needs: Census data is an important source of information on housing needs in a community. For instance, low and moderate income (LMI) households comprise over 60% of the renters, but less than 20% of the homeowners in Grand Forks. Census data confirms that a very high percentage of both renters (77%) and owners (68%) who earn less than 51% of the median income will have some type of housing problem, and the households with the least income also face homelessness if there is a loss of income or an unexpected expense.
Households are cost burdened when they pay more than 30% of their income for housing. Only about 1,800 LMI households currently receive rental assistance; but in 1990 over 3,700 LMI households were considered cost burdened and 1,900 were paying more than half their income for rent. Cost burdens for LMI renters exist at a similar rate for elderly, small family, large family, and minority households. Census data indicated that over two- thirds of the households earning less than 31% were paying 50% or more of their income for housing. Over half of the large families with the lowest incomes live in overcrowded rental housing.
Older housing is usually more affordable, but more often substandard. Only 17% of the housing stock in Grand Forks was built before 1940, but almost three-fourths of the tenants living in the oldest apartments were LMI. The Census indicated that 48% of the LMI owners had housing problems and their houses were twice as likely to have physical defects. Few LMI households can afford to purchase a home, and high rental costs make saving difficult. The escalating cost of single family homes was partially off-set in recent months by lower interest rates and the availability of assistance programs. These trends are expected to continue over the next five years. The possible closure or downsizing of the GF Air Base could positively affect vacancy rates; however, this threat continues to inhibit the housing industry, and developers are reluctant to invest in new housing.
Priorities & Goals for Housing: A high priority was placed on all low income renter categories (0-50% of the median) due to the shortage of apartments, escalating rents, frequency of substandard conditions, and lack of development. Census data and waiting list information confirmed that overcrowding is a major problem for large families in rental units, so this need was rated high. Substandard, owner-occupied housing is a concern in older, LMI neighborhoods; and it was ranked medium in all categories. The creation of home ownership opportunities for LMI families will also be an important part of City efforts, but activities will not be limited to target areas. The in- fill housing project will primarily focus on the two LMI areas and designated slum and blight area. The primary obstacle in meeting housing needs will be lack of resources. Federal and State funds are insufficient, and programs are highly competitive. It also seems likely that government reorganization and funding cuts will occur in many housing programs. Attitudes about low income families can also negatively impact choices of activities or funding. Sometimes, needs go unmet because people are unaware of programs, tired of waiting, or reluctant to apply. The uncertainty about the GF Air Base is negatively affecting the production of housing. Certain City statutes and policies also may be discouraging the development of affordable housing. The following goals were approved to help address needs for more affordable housings:
Homeless Need & Priorities: The 1990 Census indicated that there were 83 persons in emergency shelters, and a 1993 survey counted 120 homeless persons. Street people may have been missed in both counts. Most information comes from service providers; but this data is often incomplete and no comprehensive assessment has been done. Shelter providers estimate that about 35% to 40% of their clients are minorities. Of that number, Native Americans constitute about two-thirds. Since minorities comprise 5% of the population in Grand Forks, there appears to be a disproportionate number. The United Way survey indicated that 82% of the leaders and providers felt that emergency shelter was a need in the community. Participants in the Consolidated Plan process rated emergency shelters for families, persons with special needs, and individuals as a high priority. Transitional housing was rated medium for families or individuals, but high for the special needs population. Although there are no separate facilities or programs for homeless youth, local agencies appear to be meeting this need since most runaways are from the area and can be re-connected with their families. Supportive housing was ranked as a high priority, especially for persons experiencing mental illness or substance abuse. The following were adopted:
Special Needs Housing & Priorities: Service providers and the Citizen Advisory Committee indicated that the greatest need for special needs housing was for persons with severe mental illness. Emergency (detox) and supportive housing for persons with chronic substance abuse problems was also recognized as a need. Statewide projections indicate a 7-10% increase in the demand for substance abuse services. Housing for persons with AIDS had the lowest priority ranking, but its average rating was still close to medium. Anecdotal evidence from service providers indicates that the number of persons with AIDS requiring supportive housing or services is small (5 a year). However, national trends indicate Grand Forks will have to more fully address this concern in coming years. Elderly housing with support services was rated as a medium priority. It appears that current demands for elderly housing are being met with the exception of basic care facilities. Creation of more housing options for the elderly will be necessary as the population continues to age and since elderly persons tend to move to larger communities to be near services and health care. Accessible housing was ranked as a medium priority. Persons with disabilities have a wide range of needs for both services and housing, including family units. Apartment living with supportive services will be a growing need for persons with developmental disabilities since many will no longer require the supervision of a group home. Further study and a system for a housing inventory/referral are both needed. The following goals were adopted:
Public & Assisted Housing Needs: There are no Public Housing units in Grand Forks. About 1,800 LMI households currently receive rental assistance. The GF Housing Authority manages 950 Section 8 Certificates and Vouchers and about 475 units of assisted housing (non-profit or private ownership). The Housing Authority is assisting the non-profit owners of this housing to find funds for modernization since these projects were built 15-25 years ago. There are no unused rental certificates or vouchers, and no units are vacant other than for the transition between tenants. Time on the waiting list varies from one to three months, but the wait for 1 and 3 bedroom units is longer. No assisted housing units are expected to be lost in the next few years, but the City will continue to monitor private and non-profit owners of assisted housing to prevent loss of units.
Fair Housing concerns: Over 37% of the households in the United Way study felt that racial and ethnic discrimination was a major to moderate concern. The Plan defined an area of minority concentration as any block group with a total minority population of 10% or more. There is one such area in Grand Forks, and it consists of 4 block groups adjacent to the University. Three of the block groups are also LMI areas. Available data indicates that minorities as a group generally do not experience housing problems at a significantly higher rate with the exception of the need for emergency shelter (30-40%). Housing problems correlate more closely with income; and the lower the income, the more likely it was for a household to have problems. However, it must be noted that a much higher proportion of Native American and Asian/Pacific Islander households earn less than half of the median income. The Housing Authority reported that about 12% of assisted households are headed by a minority person, and Native Americans comprise 9-10% of all assisted households. There were no disabled persons on the priority waiting list. About 25% of the housing managed by the Housing Authority is accessible or adaptable.
Barriers to Affordable Housing: Both formal city statutes and informal policies may serve as barriers to affordable housing. Two examples are restrictions on manufactured housing and the requirement for copper plumbing rather than the less costly plastic. The City held hearings to identify ways to develop affordable housing. The City is evaluating its building codes and recent efforts of two developers to produce affordable housing. Participants in the hearing cited the following concerns:
Lead-based Paint: The Plan estimates that 4,015 housing
units (+/-10%) occupied by LMI households may contain lead-based paint hazards.
To date, the local Health Department has not found or received reports of lead
poisoning in children living in the county. The Health Department works with
County Social Services to provide early, periodic screening, diagnosis, and
treatment of lead poisoning for children receiving Medical Assistance or AFDC.
National surveys suggest that 12-15% of children under age 6 may have high blood
lead levels. Although it appears that lead poisoning is not a serious problem
in the community, further evaluation is necessary.
Infrastructure: Overall, infrastructure needs were ranked as a medium priority in the Consolidated Plan. The five year Capital Improvements Plan for the City of Grand Forks prioritizes projects based on need and financial capability. In the coming five years, the City plans to improve its solid waste disposal system to meet EPA requirements. A third of its budget will go for water system improvements. A major flood protection study is also anticipated. Other needs include streets, sidewalks, and sanitary/storm sewers. The following graph illustrates the cost of planned improvements in the next 5 years. The City usually does not use CDBG funds for improvements in this category, but consideration will be given to flood control or other specific improvements affecting LMI neighborhoods.
Economic Development: The City does not use CDBG funds for economic development because of burdensome regulations. Instead, the City uses proceeds from a local sales tax to fund economic development (Growth Fund). The most significant economic adversity to be faced by Grand Forks and surrounding communities will be the downsizing or closure of the GF Air Base. Economic development activities were rated as a medium priority with one exception--commercial or industrial rehabilitation was rated high. CDBG funds would be used if economic hardships occur due to closure or downsizing of the GF Air Force Base.
Public Facilities: No facilities were ranked as low or no need. Facilities that serve youth (especially those at risk) were given a high priority, while all others were ranked medium. Recreational facilities/parks were noted as playing an important role in LMI neighborhoods. Other facilities (homeless shelters, health care, senior citizens, disabled persons, and substance abuse) are essential due to their provision of services to LMI persons, but few have the resources to make improvements.
Public Services: Youth, substance abuse, fair housing, child care, and health care services were all rated as high priorities since these services are critical to LMI persons. Other services were rated medium, but transportation and crime awareness were rated low due to the availability of other funding.
Accessibility: Accessibility was ranked as a medium priority. Although improvements have been made over the past few years, accessibility is still an issue in housing, infrastructure, facilities, homeless shelters, and services. Improvements in low income areas will receive special consideration.
Historic Preservation: Both residential and non-residential historic preservation were ranked as medium needs. Grand Forks was established over a century ago as a riverfront city, and it retains many of its historically significant structures. The City is exploring the use of historic preservation as a revitalization tool in its downtown (slum/blight and LMI target area) in cooperation with East Grand Forks through the development of the River Forks Plan. Activities include store front rehabilitation, restoration of facilities, and infrastructure.
Short-term Goals: The following were approved after careful consideration of survey data, committee recommendations, and existing policies:
Geographic Target Area: The City will invest the majority of its CDBG funds in the next five years in its two areas of LMI concentration, the designated slum and blight area, or use its funds to directly benefit LMI households.
Anti-Poverty Strategy: The City works to fight poverty through its financial support of a number of projects and activities which gives LMI persons the opportunity to escape poverty. The Grand Forks Housing Authority has initiated a Family Self-Sufficiency Program to help LMI households to become independent of assistance programs within 2-5 years. Each participant must agree to goal setting, training, full participation, and to forfeit rental assistance if they do not reach their goals. This program provides individual counseling and refers clients to other agencies for job training, education, family counseling, case management, etc. The Housing Authority co-sponsors entrepreneurial classes for single parents and minorities. It recently built youth centers (CDBG funding) adjacent to two low income housing complexes, and the Park District provides after school and summer programs. Programming includes education, recreation, and social opportunities. The City also manages a summer youth employment program. Both programs provide skills and positive experiences for young people who are at risk. The City uses nearly $1 million annually from its Growth Fund to finance new or expanding businesses that create primary sector jobs for local residents. The City sets aside additional sales tax revenue for the Human Needs Fund.
Resources: The City may use the following as matching funds for grant programs: sales tax revenue, tax increment financing, and tax abatement. The City funds its capital improvements from a variety of sources including: sales tax, Federal Transit Administration, EDA, general fund, Park District, highway funds, revenue bonds, and special assessments. Sales tax revenue is also used to fund local non-profits (Human Needs Fund), education and promotional activities, and economic development (Growth Fund). The City may also use state programs (e.g. PACE, Technology Transfer) for economic development. The City applies to the ND Office of Intergovernmental Assistance (OIA) for HOME and ESG funds. HOME funds will be used for both home ownership and rental projects. Home buyers may also use the ND First-Time Home Buyer Program, VA loans, HUD houses, etc. Community Action assists LMI persons with weatherization, home purchase, repairs, and security deposits.
Coordination: The City of Grand Forks through its Office of
Urban Development and the Housing Authority will continue to promote
coordination between non-profits, government, and the private sector. The City
will begin by providing the necessary information about the Plan to the involved
entities and by giving them opportunities for input and evaluation. Staff will
be encouraged to maintain communication and participate meetings concerning
housing/community development issues. One of the ways the City will monitor
progress is by working with subrecipients of grant monies. All applicants to
the City for HUD funds will be required to provide a complete description of the
proposed projects, budget, statement of goals, organizational information, and
beneficiary data. The City will use this information to determine eligibility
and consistency with the Plan. Staff will monitor subrecipients to verify
compliance. Monitoring will include progress reports, on-site visits, and
annual reviews. Staff will provide technical assistance as needed. Agencies
wishing to apply for other HUD funds to be used in the City will be required
provide information to assure consistency with the Plan. The City will
communicate informally with other agencies to check on progress for the
implementation and evaluation of the Plan.
CDBG funding is expected to be $605,000, and program income is projected to be $3,000. No float or Section 108 loan funds are proposed. The following projects comprise the 1995 CDBG Program for Grand Forks.
MAP 2 depicts points of interest and low-moderate income areas.
MAP 3 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and minority concentration levels.
MAP 4 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, and unemployment levels.
MAP 5 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects; in addition, a table provides information about the project(s).
MAP 6 depicts points of interest, low-moderate income areas, unemployment levels, and proposed HUD funded projects.
Mr. John O'Leary, Executive Director
Office of Urban Development
P.O. Box 1518
Grand Forks, ND 58206
PH: (701) 746-2545
Fax: (701) 746-2548