With emerging data, ND housing needs come into focus
Monday, October 16, 2023
More than 65% of North Dakotans say housing is the state's biggest overall need. That's according to new community-level survey data.
The findings are from the latest needs assessment issued by Community Action Partnership of North Dakota, which gathered feedback from more than 3,000 residents.
For low-income respondents, rental assistance is the biggest priority. CAP ND's Executive Director Andrea Olson said that's not surprising because it mirrors the calls for assistance at their regional offices.
But she said respondents, regardless of income, agree that housing overall tops all other categories. She said it underscores the scope of the problem and the obstacles families are facing.
"We know that there's North Dakotans who are in need," said Olson. "We know that these are folks who are often gainfully employed and just still can't make the ends meet."
An interim legislative committee is studying housing barriers, and the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency reports nearly 40% of renters are spending at least a third of their income on housing.
With these details coming together, and the state's pandemic-related ND Rent Help program due to expire next year, Olson said it would be disappointing to not see a long-term solution.
Beyond housing, access to food has moved up to second on the needs list for low-income North Dakotans. Inflation has cooled, but Olson said it's clear households are finding it difficult to get everything they need.
"A grocery cart that used to cost $150 is now $200," said Olson.
Meanwhile, non-low-income respondents cited mental health services as their top specific need. Provider shortages, especially in rural areas, have been well documented in light of the pandemic.
The needs assessment includes statewide and regional data, with project leaders saying the results can inform all levels of government when responding to these issues.
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