Board Member Spotlight: CommunityWorks North Dakota’s Dwight Barden, Executive Director of Burleigh County Housing Authority

Lewis & Clark Development Group is fortunate to benefit from the expertise of so many state and community leaders who serve on our three boards of directors. Their service and support allows LCD Group’s three entities – Lewis & Clark Regional Development Council (RDC), Lewis & Clark Certified Development Company (CDC), and CommunityWorks North Dakota (CWND) – to fulfill our mission and positively impact businesses, communities, families, and individuals throughout North Dakota.

We recently visited with CWND board member and treasurer Dwight Barden on the challenges facing affordable housing in North Dakota.

About Dwight Barden

Dwight Barden has dedicated his career to affordable housing. As executive director of the Burleigh County Housing Authority, he is one of the state’s leading experts and advocates on the issue.

Barden has first joined the Burleigh County Housing Authority in 1984 and became its executive director in 2010. His expertise and insights are valuable as both a director and as treasurer on CommunityWorks North Dakota Board of Directors.

In addition to his service on the CWND board, Barden is a member of the Bismarck Homeless Coalition, is a past president of the North Dakota chapter of the National Association of Housing and Redevelopment Officials (NAHRO), and serves on various community and regional committees, including participation on the committee updating Bismarck’s 10-year plan.

He earned degrees from North Dakota State College of Science (NDSCS) and the University of Mary. Barden holds an NAHRO Public Housing Manager certification along with certifications from Rutgers University and the Public Housing Authorities Directors Association (PHADA).

Barden and his wife, Connie, have been married for 29 years. Their oldest son, Nick, has given the couple two grandchildren. Their youngest son, Adam, will be entering the seminary later this fall.

With spring arriving, it is time for Barden to get back onto the golf course. He also hopes, with the COVID-19 pandemic abating, to return to playing bass guitar in his church more often. 

What are the major affordable housing challenges here in North Dakota?

The lack of affordable housing and the aging out of some of the affordable housing that was developed 40 or more years ago. The limit of funding available to develop new affordable housing. These are the the major challenges we have to address.

What has been the biggest change you’ve seen in affordable housing over the last ten years?

There’s been an increased need due to multiple economic situations. COVID-19 has had some effect in this regard. We are also seeing an increased need for tenants with special needs.  

How important is CommunityWorks North Dakota in addressing our state’s affordable housing challenges?

It’s been enjoyable serving on the CommunityWorks North Dakota Board. The organization’s leadership keeps CommunityWorks moving forward and serves a very important purpose in our state. 

The commitment that CommunityWorks North Dakota and Lewis and Clark Development Group have in working with more rural communities has been important in sustaining affordable housing throughout North Dakota. Our small communities cannot afford to lose any housing. Without the support of CommunityWorks North Dakota, and other housing groups, these communities would lose housing and jobs as there would not be enough housing for employees to live in the community. Housing and jobs go hand in hand. CommunityWorks North Dakota and Lewis and Clark Development Group are focused on both issues and they’re making a positive difference.