Podcast: A Small Bank Tackles Rural Housing Affordability

Christie Obenauer’s family-owned bank had a problem. Based in a rural county in western North Dakota, her community had been dealing with the prospect of population decline, but then the North Dakota energy boom brought an influx of newcomers. “It’s a wonderful problem to have.”

While Obenauer’s bank — Union State Bank in Hazen, N.D. — isn’t in the oil patch directly, it serves as a bedroom community for many who commute into the oil areas. It’s also home to large coal-mining operations. In the face of the housing crunch, her bank got involved in financing homes across the western part of the state. And with a need for housing that could be deployed quickly — “We had people thinking they could live in a camper in January, which — no. You can’t do it,” she chuckles — she also worked with the Bank of North Dakota and a state agency to develop a secondary market for manufactured homes.

On the ABA Banking Journal Podcast, Obenauer — a fourth-generation CEO — also talks about how the Bank of North Dakota — the only state-owned bank in the country — has worked with Union State Bank to expand its lending capability and bring a new $30 million critical access hospital, large day care facility and other needed projects to her hometown.

If you can’t see the audio player above, click here to listen to this week’s episode.

In this episode:

Christie Obenauer
President and CEO
Union State Bank

Evan Sparks
ABA Banking Journal

Monica C. Meinert
Deputy Editor
ABA Banking Journal