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Leader of Fargo housing agency to retire this spring

Fargo Housing and Redevolopment Authority Executive Director Lynn Fundingsland holds a rotten cast iron pipe from the Lashkowitz High Rise in his office in 2007. The piping in the building had been in use since 1971. Jay Pickthorn / The Forum

FARGO — A longtime champion of affordable housing in Fargo and the region, Lynn Fundingsland, is retiring as head of the Fargo Housing and Redevelopment Authority, the agency announced Friday, Nov. 17.

"I'm going to be 70 next year. I can still hike, and I can still dance, and I can still swim, and I want to see some of the world," Fundingsland said.

Fundingsland said his last day on the job will be Friday, April 27, "and I'm going to the lake on Saturday."

However, he will continue to work as a consultant for the FHRA.

"The impact of Lynn's commitment and dedication to the residents and clients we serve is widespread and often immeasurable, not only in Fargo, but throughout our region and across the state," said Karen Moore, who heads the FHRA board of commissioners.

The FHRA has begun the process of looking for a new executive director. Applications can be directed to Moore at the agency, a news release said.

Fundingsland was hired as the FHRA's executive director in 1999, after running the Becker County, Minn., housing authority for 17 years.

The FHRA monitors just over 2,000 apartments, half owned by the housing authority and the rest by other housing partners, with rent based on income and generally below market rates. Another 1,200 tenants are in private apartments and receiving aid with their rent, Fundingsland said.

"We've produced a lot of new affordable housing" over the years, Fundingsland said, including the 42-unit Cooper House apartments for the homeless.

Fundingsland was also instrumental in the creation of the nonprofit Beyond Shelter Inc., which is now an independent developer of affordable housing in Minnesota and the Dakotas.

Fargo's Planning Director Jim Gilmour said Fundingsland is creative.

"I think he's been real innovative for the city in an era of limited resources for low-income housing," Gilmour said. "He's always been a good partner with the city of Fargo."

Despite local efforts, Fundingsland said the affordable housing gap has grown. When he arrived in Fargo, the waiting list for housing had 250 families, now it tops 2,000.

"So we're backsliding," he said. "It's an increasing need."

Fundingsland said that before he leaves, he wants to assemble the financing to rehab the Lashkowitz High Rise in downtown Fargo.

Fundingsland said he appreciates the support he's seen from Fargo's city officials and the FHRA board.

"If I had another 10 years in me, I'd spend it here," he said.

Helmut Schmidt

Helmut Schmidt was born in Germany, but grew up in the Twin Cities area, graduating from Park High School of Cottage Grove. After serving a tour in the U.S. Army, he attended the University of St. Thomas in St Paul, Minn., graduating in 1984 with a degree in journalism. He then worked at the Albert Lea (Minn.) Tribune and served as managing editor there for three years. He joined The Forum in October 1989, working as a copy editor until 2000. Since then, he has worked as a reporter on several beats, including education, Fargo city government, business and military affairs. He is currently The Forum's K-12 education reporter.

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