The Montana Department of Commerce announced this week that $25 million in federal funding has been allocated to Montana to develop affordable rental housing in 14 Montana communities, including Missoula.

Housing Division Administrator for the Montana Department of Commerce, Cheryl Cohen provided details about the federal funding.

“We were able to successfully award $25 million to develop more affordable homes in 14 Montana communities,” said Cohen. “This included some remaining allocations of the Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credit, as well as the Federal Home and Housing Trust Fund program. In collaboration with the advisory commission established under state legislation, we were allocated $15 million out of the American rescue plan for State of Montana fiscal recovery dollars.”

Cohen said there are two specific projects under construction in Missoula receiving $2 million each, the Trinity and Villagio complexes.

“There are two projects in Missoula, both around 200 units apiece that received $2 million and ARPA gap financing, so collectively out of that ARPA gap financing there will be $4 million going to support 402 units in Missoula,” she said.

Cohen said with the rapid rise in construction costs during the pandemic, both projects qualified for extra federal funding.

“Both of those projects are at various stages of construction,” she said. “What we found when we released the survey to the affordable housing projects in our pipeline over the summer, is that the average cost of construction and with labor sort shortages, these projects were experiencing on average 17% increase in their project costs. So this additional funding will help get those projects to the finish line so they can successfully lease it up.”

Cohen said federal funds to assist in building affordable rental housing have been allocated through 2030.

“For funds that are specific to developing more affordable rental homes, the state is also receiving about $11.5 million dollars in additional Federal Home American rescue plan Act funds,” she said. “We're engaging in consultation with our partners on use of these funds. It can help support housing and shelter for homeless and other vulnerable populations. With that particular fund source, we have until 2030 to expand it. So we want to make sure that we're really assessing the needs of communities and putting those dollars on the ground to have the biggest bang for our buck.”

The Montana Department of Commerce told KGVO it expects the Trinity Project to be completed by January 2023, and the Villagio is scheduled for completion in May 2023.


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