The Fire Tower Apartments in Helena are among the projects that will receive federal housing trust fund monies (Courtesy Montana Department of Commerce)
The Montana Department of Commerce said Monday that the state Board of Housing has allocated more than $25 million in federal low-income housing tax credits over the last two months, helping to finance the construction, acquisition or rehabilitation of affordable housing units in Big Sky, Lewiston, Billings, Great Falls, Dillon and Kalispell.
These roughly 250 homes are a chunk of almost 1,000 affordable units that the state has at least partially financed with the help of federal funds this year. Between Montana’s allocations from LIHTC, the federal Housing Trust Fund, HOME formula grants and the American Rescue Plan Act, Commerce said the state will construct or preserve 945 affordable homes.
These projects range from apartments in cities like Helena, Billings, and Great Falls to houses on the Crow Agency, in Lewiston and more.
Montana, like many states, has seen a population influx but a plummet in housing stock, followed in turn by a dramatic increase in home prices and rental costs. Local leaders have generally looked to the feds for aid in addressing the shortage — while Montana has some of its own tools, like a state housing trust fund, it tends not to appropriate very much money to keep those programs functional.
The state Department of Commerce receives $6 million a year from the federal housing trust fund and HOME programs, and is allotted a certain number of federal housing tax credits to help developers defray the costs of building affordable units. The passage of the American Rescue Plan Act also freed up some housing funds, with state officials opting to allocate $15 million in gap financing for affordable housing projects struggling to finish amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
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