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Missoula County, city directing millions in federal funding toward housing, homeless

Both the city and county of Missoula are investing in an emergency winter shelter using federal funding.

While the city and its nonprofit partners direct millions of dollars in federal funding to preserve affordable housing across Missoula, they’re also placing millions more toward homelessness.

With funding from the American Rescue Plan Act in hand, the city’s executive budget – released earlier this year – detailed plans to steer $311,000 toward an emergency winter shelter, and $3.5 million to help the Poverello Center establish a veterans supportive housing program.

The city would also provide operational support to the Pov in the amount of $211,000. An additional $2.7 million in one-time funding was allocated to the Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

Last week, Missoula County approved its own plans to direct $2.5 million in ARPA funding toward similar issues related to housing and homelessness.

Of that funding, the county plans to funnel $833,000 toward the Poverello to help it establish the veterans support housing program. Another $100,000 is earmarked for the emergency winter shelter.

“Missoula County contributes every year to support the emergency winter shelter program,” said county CAO Chris Lounsbury. “We saw a significant uptick this last year in need as the Pov had to reduce capacity in its congregant setting.”

The county’s plans also include $1.5 million to support other initiatives around housing and homelessness. In many cases, commissioners said, the funding decisions were made in partnership with the city to achieve the greatest impact.

“These decisions came after lots of deliberations and discussion with our staff and partners at the city and in the nonprofit world,” said Commissioner Josh Slotnick. “I feel good about where we landed.”

Funding from ARPA and the CARES Act will also be used to help advance other housing efforts. On Monday night, the City Council agreed to back one nonprofit’s application for $1.3 million to help the residents in one mobile-home park purchase their property.

The council also approved the city’s purchase of the Bridge Apartments for $2.1 million using revenue from its general fund. The city will attempt to sell the property to a buyer as permanently affordable housing.

The Missoula Redevelopment has agreed to cover the cost difference between the city’s purchase price and the final sale price. If the property can’t be sold, MRA would reimburse the city for the entire amount by floating a bond.

“This gives us the tools to make sure we have everything in place to fund this project,” said council member Stacie Anderson. “In the face of this being sold for market rate and people being homeless, we decided it’s our duty at the city to step in.”