WILLISTON, N.D. – XTO Energy announced Monday a $5 million donation that will help provide affordable housing for teachers, police and other essential personnel in three of the state’s busiest oil communities.
The oil company’s contribution to North Dakota’s Housing Incentive Fund will support four housing projects in Williston, Watford City and Killdeer. Half of the 287 multi-family units are targeted for low-income residents or employees of cities, counties, medical facilities, school districts or law enforcement.
XTO, a subsidiary of ExxonMobil with more than 100 employees in North Dakota, selected which housing projects would receive the funds.
“This initiative will provide housing assistance where it’s needed most,” Tim McIlwain, senior vice president for XTO, said Monday during a check presentation in Williston.
XTO is now the largest contributor to the Housing Incentive Fund, a program created in the 2011 legislative session that provides low-cost financing to developers of affordable multi-family housing. Individuals and businesses who contribute to the fund receive a dollar-for-dollar state income tax credit.
Gov. Jack Dalrymple, who attended the event Monday, noted that the communities receiving the funds are some of the fastest growing in the nation.
“You can’t keep up with that pace of growth unless you make it possible for people to stay in their community, continue to live there, even if they’re not making a high salary thanks to our boom in oil and gas,” Dalrymple said.
In Watford City, there continues to be a shortage of affordable housing for teachers, said Katie Walters, property manager of the Wolf Run Village II project, one of the projects benefiting from the funds.
Walters said monthly rent of $1,600 for a one-bedroom apartment is the most affordable permanent housing she’s aware of in Watford City.
“Rent is starting to come down a little bit, but it’s still out of reach for essential workers,” Walters said.
Affordable housing continues to be key for recruiting firefighters and paramedics to Williston, said Williston Fire Chief Jason Catrambone. One of his employees recently moved into a housing unit supported by a previous Housing Incentive Fund grant, he said.
Legislators authorized $30 million in income tax credits for the fund for the 2015-17 biennium.
To date, $10.7 million has been raised, said Jolene Kline, executive director for the North Dakota Housing Finance Agency, which administers the fund.
The funds from XTO will support four townhomes in Killdeer, all for city employees. The other projects selected are Wolf Run Village II, 20 units, Watford City Apartments, 77 units, and Williston Station Apartments, 186 units.
The proposed monthly rents for the projects range from $375 for low-income residents to between $900 and $1,575 for essential workers, Kline said. The projects have a 15-year rent restriction, so residents of the affordable units will have stable prices, she said. Other units in the building will be market rents.