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After eight years, affordable housing project in Stevensville wins state funding

Posted at 2:41 PM, Nov 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-11-13 16:41:42-05

While Missoula celebrated news that an affordable housing project for seniors scored tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing last week, a similar project in Stevensville also received funding after applying several times.

Jim Morton, head of the Human Resource Council for western Montana, said the project is greatly needed in Ravalli County’s tight market, where the cost of housing is on the rise.

“We’ve been trying now for eight years to get that budget funded,” Morton said. “We bid five times to the Montana Board of Housing. The fifth time was a charm.”

The $3.7 million project, dubbed Nicole Court, is set to break ground next spring on the Eastside Highway. It will provide 16 units of affordable housing for seniors, survivors of domestic and sexual assault, and those with special needs.

“In Ravalli County, there are folks facing domestic violence, and that’s often not a one-time event,” said Morton. “They have their work interrupted and their credit history is affected, so they have a hard time going out into the market.”

Morton said Ravalli County, now the seventh most populated county in Montana, also is facing high housing costs and a shortage of affordable units.

“Housing is tight in Ravalli County – there’s nothing really being built down there that’s really affordable,” he said. “Its housing needs are as great as they are in larger communities.”

Last week, the Montana Board of Housing awarded federal housing tax credits to six projects in the state, including the Skyview senior housing project in Missoula . That project received $5.9 million and will include 39 units.

Like most affordable housing projects, Nicole Court also received funding from other sources, including a $575,000 grant from the Des Moines Federal Home Loan Bank. The Missoula Housing Authority donated three acres of land for the project, valued at $100,000.

The Montana Board of Housing typically receives as many as 18 applications for the tax credits, and each project is generally as deserving as the next. But with limited funding, it can only select a handful of recipients.

The Nicole Court project applied several times before and is nearly a decade in the making.

“It just speaks to the need in Montana for affordable housing,” said Morton. “Everyone community, large and small, is in the same situation.”

Morton said the housing units should open in late 2020 or early 2021.