The North Dakota Supreme Court has suspended until further notice, all residential evictions in the state due to circumstances surrounding the coronavirus pandemic.

The order was issued by the court on Thursday, March 26.

Terry Hanson, executive director of the Grand Forks Housing Authority, said his office will only proceed with evictions if there is criminal activity at residences under control of the Housing Authority. Evictions, he said, may also happen if a resident poses a threat to other tenants.

Hanson made his remarks at the latest in a series of online business listening sessions. The session held on Friday, March 27, focused on nonprofit organizations. Previous sessions focused on the food industry, retail, manufacturing and professional services.

Friday's session was hosted by Grand Forks City Council member Katie Dachtler and attended by nearly 100 people, many of them representatives of nonprofit groups in the area.

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Hanson made clear that people who are on housing assistance and have lost their jobs should contact his office to have their rent reviewed and most likely lowered.

“Now you can actually go online, and we have a notice of change form online where you can notify the Grand Forks Housing Authority of a reduction in income,” Hanson said. “We will immediately start processing the reduction and then it will take effect for the following month."

Rent that is due to the Housing Authority is not forgiven, Hanson noted, but will not be collected at this time.

-- In other housing related happenings at the listening session, a representative from Habitat For Humanity said there would be no foreclosures on families who can't make payments because of COVID-19. Dave Sena at United Way also said his organization may be able to offer rental assistance depending on need and the organizations available funds.

-- Janell Regimbal of Lutheran Social Services pointed out the need for mortgage relief and loan restructuring. Due to the coronavirus crisis causing losses of jobs, nonprofits that are involved in housing will take a severe financial hit. Without state and private assistance, she submitted to the group, her housing program will be under threat.

-- Hanson said the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, which was signed into law by President Donald Trump on Friday, March 27, will provide billions of dollars for programs that his office oversees. In addition, he said the law provides billions in homeless assistance grants, upon which many nonprofits in the area rely.

-- Becca Baumbach, of the Community Foundation of Grand Forks/East Grand Forks and Region, said the Minnesota-based Otto Bremer Trust Trust has put together a $50 million fund to provide assistance to nonprofit groups in a four-state area. The states include Wisconsin, Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. Assistance will come primarily in the form of loans, though the trust will also consider grant requests. Information on the fund can be found at https://ottobremer.org/, or by visiting https://www.gofoundation.org/relief.html.

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