- Associated Press - Sunday, February 28, 2016

MANDAN, N.D. (AP) - The Morton County Commission has renewed a contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development for a county-owned apartment building in Mandan.

The HUD contract for the building was renewed Feb. 11, the Bismarck Tribune (https://bit.ly/1QjkICJ) reported. The building will remain intact as its use beyond the next two years remains undecided.

Of the building’s 45 units, 36 are subsidized by HUD, with the remaining units paying rent in full.

The county commission bought the 45-unit building before voters decided whether Morton County should expand its own jail or partner with Burleigh County in building a new jail in Bismarck. Morton County voters opted for the combined Bismarck center, so Morton County doesn’t need the apartment space to expand its jail.

Residents of the one-bedroom apartments will be able to continue occupying their units at least until March 1, 2018, according to Cody Schulz, chairman of the county commission.

“When you renew the HUD contract, you are technically renewing it two years,” he said.

Many residents who live in the subsidized units, including Rebecca Horn, are pleased about the renewal.

“A lot of people here don’t own a vehicle. How do they look for a new place? Renters want you to have a 600 or better credit score, and a lot people here don’t,” Horn, 29, said.

Horn, who has diabetes and cannot work because of a disability, said the building’s location is convenient because it’s right by a drug store, a police department and a fire department.

“This building is essential for people living here. We need it,” she said, adding that it’s a secure building, so she feels safe living there.

Janna Buchl, 34, also lives in the building and said she cannot work because of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“We are blessed to have a place. The apartments are very small, but we have a roof over our heads,” she said.

The $204,000 in rent revenue generated from the apartments annually helps repay the county’s internal fund used to buy the building for $1 million, said county auditor Dawn Rhone.

“It could be 10 years before we do something with that property,” Commissioner Bruce Strinden. “Our plan is to run that property until there are needs for expansion. What could accelerate tearing it down is a serious roof problem.”

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Information from: Bismarck Tribune, https://www.bismarcktribune.com


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