Fargo News

Public housing crisis in Fargo: Agency closes application waitlist amid rising demand

Fargo, North Dakota – The Fargo Public Housing Agency recently announced the temporary closure of its application waitlist for new housing voucher candidates due to an overwhelming number of prospective applicants. This decision came into effect as the agency grapples with the task of managing an extensive queue, which has surpassed its operational capacity.

Chris Brungardt, CEO of Fargo Housing, informed that applicants were experiencing average waiting periods exceeding a year, which led to the halt on May 26. The agency’s objective is to maintain an average waiting time of nine months or less. He emphasized, “Our primary aim is to ensure that public housing assistance is accessible to individuals within a reasonable timeframe. It is not our intention to set unrealistic expectations of immediate assistance availability.”

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) allocates 1,950 housing choice vouchers, previously known as Section 8, to Fargo Housing. Of these, 94% are presently in use, leaving only 110 vouchers available. Approximately 1,300 individuals are currently on the waiting list.

Fargo Housing had previously closed the application list to new entries in 2021. The list remained closed for over a year while the agency’s nine-member voucher review staff examined several thousand applications. By December 2022, the list had been reduced to a few hundred names, and subsequently reopened.

However, within half a year, the list has surged to over a thousand potential applicants. Brungardt expressed his hopes for an earlier reopening of the list this time, as the agency opted to close it before it became as extensive as the last instance. He refrained from specifying a definitive reopening date.

Brungardt addressed the worsening shortage of both public housing and voucher-eligible accommodation in Fargo. The closure of the Lashkowitz High Rise in 2021 resulted in the loss of over half of the city’s public housing units. Coupled with broader economic factors, this situation has fueled an exacerbating crisis.

“The combination of a significant reduction in our housing stock, inflation, rising housing prices, stagnant wages, and the time lag to restore the inventory has resulted in a distressing situation. The community’s need for housing is apparent, but unfortunately, we are currently unable to meet this demand,” he explained.

The Lashkowitz High Rise is scheduled for demolition towards the end of September or early October. However, the new public housing units, projected to be 110 in total, are unlikely to be ready for occupancy until spring 2025.

If the situation persists, Brungardt stated that Fargo Housing might consider a request to HUD for an increased allocation of housing vouchers.

Jimmy Hathaway

Having spent my formative years in the beloved city of Grand Forks, I eventually relocated to Fargo during my second decade of life. The passion for journalism runs deep within my bloodline, as numerous close relatives have been, and some continue to be, engaged in the field as reporters and journalists. Outside of my professional pursuits, I cherish the moments spent in the company of my family.

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