Filling a growing gap: LCD Group expands into property management services

As the need for affordable housing in North Dakota continues to grow, so does the demand for property management specializing in servicing properties that primarily offer housing to low-to-moderate income families.

Managing these properties often involves working with government agencies such as HUD, USDA Rural Development, and North Dakota Housing Finance Agency.

Compliance with these agencies and related funding programs includes a large amount of completing complex, detailed and, at times, intimidating paperwork. Familiarity with the myriad of federal and state programs is a must. Having relationships with lenders and program specialists is a critical advantage. To gain this knowledge requires investments of both time and money.

Recognizing the widening gap across the state for property management companies that specialize in affordable housing, and having the expertise to meet the need, is why Lewis & Clark Development Group recently added property management to its portfolio of services.

Extension of LCD Group’s Mission

Lewis & Clark Development Executive Director Brent Ekstrom says this new service fits seamlessly within LCD Group’s mission of ‘providing opportunities to develop North Dakota’s economy and communities through flexible financing and support for businesses and affordable housing.’

“You don’t want to take on services that don’t fit into your organization’s mission or would, in any way, detract from carrying out your core services,” Ekstrom notes. “Offering property management services fits perfectly under our organizational umbrella. It complements our affordable housing work.”

Affordable housing is a primary area of focus for LCD Group through CommunityWorks North Dakota (CWND), which is the state’s only network member of the NeighborWorks America®. NWA is congressionally chartered and dedicated to creating opportunities for people to live in affordable housing, improve their lives, and strengthen their communities.

“Providing property management services allows us to fill a gap and meet the needs of three specific groups” says Ekstrom. “We are serving the owners by protecting their investment. We are meeting the needs of the tenants by offering experienced and compassionate management. And, we are helping communities maintain and provide affordable housing for current and prospective residents, which in turns supports a community’s economy. Everything we’re doing is to help families and communities.”

Some of the specific services LCD Group will be providing are financial management for owners, rent collection and processing, advertising, maintaining and improving property curb appeal, basic maintenance, and serving the tenants.

Plans to Grow as Inquiries are Already Being Made

As of now, LCD Group is managing Guardian Manor and Polaris Apartments, both in Minot, along with Washburn Apartments in Washburn. Ekstrom says the number of properties will grow and grow quickly.

“Our goal by the middle of next year is to have 500 or more units in our portfolio. We are staging to grow and we can confidently project these figures based on inquiries from developers and housing groups throughout the state.”

Ekstrom says developers and groups are already reaching out. A major reason for their interest is LCD Group’s affordable housing expertise and strong industry reputation.

“Lewis and Clark Development Group is a statewide leader in affordable housing. Lenders, developers, government officials at every level know us and work with us. We’ve earned their trust. They want to benefit from our expertise,” Ekstrom adds.

Ekstrom says the group’s property management is narrowly focused on low- to moderate-income families and individuals. This is a population Ekstrom says is being left behind. A recent North Dakota Housing Finance Agency study backs up this claim.

“Having a roof over your head and a place to call home is something many of us take for granted, but for thousands of North Dakotans it’s a struggle to find, pay for, and keep a home,” Ekstrom said.

The housing affordability crisis is being fueled in large part by inadequate supply. LCD Group’s multi-family and housing development programs are focused on helping meet the supply and demand. Now, through property management, LCD Group is further helping service the supply side.