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Billings nonprofit hopes Tapestry Apartments will help South Side housing crisis

Tapestry groundbreaking
Posted at 5:35 PM, Dec 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-12-15 19:35:06-05

BILLINGS — Thursday was four years in the making for Community Leadership and Development, Inc.

The Billings South Side nonprofit broke ground on the Tapestry Apartments, a 27-unit, low-income housing project that CLDI hopes will be the beginning of the solution to the city's affordable housing crisis.

"On the South Side for a one-bedroom apartment, the average rent in August 2022 was $1,000 a month," said CLDI executive director Eric Basye. "For the people we're trying to serve, that’s not feasible."

Tapestry Apartments rendering
A rendering of the northwest corner of the Tapestry Apartments, a 27-unit low-income housing project being built on Billings Southside.

But not all affordable housing projects are alike. CLDI is adamant that this won't be a handout. They're looking for people who are actively working to pull themselves back up, people like Promise Vosse.

"What brought me here is my recovery and my son," Vosse said Thursday.

Vosse lives in Hannah House, CLDI’s sober living home for women and their children. She has been there since June, and she’s already accomplished her first goal.

"I am able to be a mother now to my 1-year-old son," she said. "I don’t think I’d have been able to without the help Hannah House has given me."

Vosse also has a job, as a barista at CLDI-owned Rail Line Coffee.

"I love it. It’s my favorite job I've ever had, and it's probably the longest job I’ve ever held," she said.

Promise Vosse
Promise Vosse (left) has lived at CLDI's sober living home Hannah House since June 2022 and hopes to move into the Tapestry Apartments when they open.

Vosse's next step is finding a more permanent place to live, for just her and her son.

"I’ve never really had a place of my own," she said. "I’ve always dreamed about it, always wanted it, but I've had struggles throughout my life that have held me back."

CLDI has identified Vosse and other Hannah House members as early candidates for Tapestry units. They see it as the next stepping stone to a fully independent life.

"There’s a gap in between where someone is on full assistance and someone who is trying to build their career," said Kaleb Perdew, who will replace Basye as CLDI's executive director in January. "This is one more small step from full assistance to no assistance."

Tapestry residents must make between 40-60 percent of the Yellowstone County median annual income of $34,305 (2020 Census). That can be as low as $13,722.

Units at Tapestry will start at just above $500 per month, and rent will vary depending on how much a resident makes. The best part: the project is guaranteed to stay low income for at least 46 years, so it can help Hannah House members and others for generations to come.

Tapestry Apartments 1-bedroom rendering
A 1-bedroom apartment at Tapestry Apartments will cost significantly less than most similarly-sized Billings Southside apartments.

"Previous residents didn’t get that opportunity to transition into low income, because it just wasn’t there," said Jessica Smith, Hannah House supervisor and former resident. "Some of the residents I lived with that didn't stay sober, it might have helped them with their sobriety if they had a place to go."

"For me to be able to know that there are things to look forward to, and that I can one day call mine," Vosse said, "is beyond a blessing."

CLDI is hoping to complete Tapestry by January 2024.