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Housing Authority, Homeword land state grants for affordable housing project

Four acres of county land just east of the Missoula County Detention Center were donated for the homeless and supportive housing project. The project received a funding boost on Friday from the Montana Department of Commerce. (Missoula Current file photo)

Two affordable housing partners in Missoula received a funding boost on Friday, securing roughly $3 million in grants from the Montana Department of Commerce for a project slated to open in 2022.

The funding will support the Missoula Housing Authority and Homeword as they partner on what’s been dubbed the Trinity affordable housing project.

Announced last year, the 202 unit project represents a sweeping partnership between local government and nonprofit housing partners. Missoula County donated around 5 acres of land off Mullan Road for the project, and the city of Missoula will issue tax-exempt revenue bonds to keep down project costs.

The bonds, when combined with low-income housing tax credits, will save the developer an estimate $670,000, allowing the savings to be passed on to future tenants.

Friday’s funding announcement gives the project an additional boost. The Missoula Housing Authority will receive $2.5 million in Housing Trust Fund grants while Homeword will receive $500,000 from the HOME Investment Partnership Program.

Neither organization was immediately available for comment, though Commerce Director Tara Rice called the grants a big step forward in meeting community goals.

“Our goal is to strengthen communities by supporting the development and rehabilitation of affordable homes in Montana,” Rice said. “This funding enables us to partner with existing federal, state and local efforts to increase the supply of safe and affordable homes for Montanans.”

The Trinity project, owned 50-50 between Homeword and the Missoula Housing Authority, will include 72 units off Cooley Street and 130 units off Mullan Road.

Eran Pehan, director of Housing and Community Development in Missoula, said the city looks to create 590 units using low-income housing tax credits over the next five years. It will achieve 450 of those units in three years through a number of projects, including Trinity.

She recently said the city also looks to provide a suite of affordable units using a number of other tools.

“We’re looking at other things like community land trusts and first-time ownership options for qualifying households,” Pehan said. “We have an array of strategies we’re deploying. We have a goal to provide safe and affordable housing to a few 5,000 Missoulians during those five years through a number of housing typologies.”