Innovative partnership provides a critical lifeline to rural communities

Forty years ago, the USDA Rural Development Section 515 Program was created allowing rural communities to create community betterment associations to provide affordable housing.

Properties in the program received a 40-year designation asa low-income subsidized unit. Today, many properties are losing this designation at a time when several rural community betterment associations lack the resources to rehabilitate these low-income units.

That is where Lewis & Clark Development Group and Lutheran Social Services come in.

Last year, USDA Rural Development approved a pilot program allowing LCD Group and LSS to enter into a partnership that streamlines the acquisition and rehabilitation process.

Under the arrangement, properties are acquired for their remaining debt and are remodeled. Once rehabilitation is complete, the units continue in the Section 515 Program as low-income housing under the ownership-management of Lewis & Clark Development Group and Lutheran Social Services.

Affordable housing is an issue throughout the United States. It is especially prevalent – but often little-known – in rural America. North Dakota is no exception. The most recent census figures show almost half of populations in some North Dakota rural communities classify as low-income.

So many rural community economies depend on volatile commodity markets and simply lack available resources to address affordable housing issues. The partnership between LCD Group and LSS provides a critical lifeline for these communities, allowing them to make progress in meeting this real and persistent challenge.

For more information about this partnership, please contact LCD Group at (701) 667-7600.