Montana affordable housing developments get support through federal tax credits

Twin Creek Apartments Site
Posted at 7:51 PM, Oct 26, 2023
and last updated 2023-10-26 21:51:40-04

HELENA — The Montana Board of Housing has announced five developments around the state will receive more than $32 million in federal tax credits to help build or rehabilitate more than 150 affordable housing units.

Every year, the federal government gives the state an allocation of Low-Income Housing Tax Credits, and the board is responsible for choosing which projects will receive them.

One of this year’s recipients is Twin Creek Apartments, a planned apartment project on Helena’s east side. It will include units intended for a wide variety of residents, all making less than 70% of the area’s median income.

Cheryl Cohen, executive director of Montana Housing, said the Twin Creek project stands out because of the dramatic rise in rents in Lewis and Clark County, and because it will include apartments designed to serve families.

“We really desperately need additional family-sized rental units to serve our community,” she said.

Twin Creek Apartments will receive $6.5 million to help build 20 new housing units.

The other recipients include three other projects for families and individuals.

· Mitchell Court, in Billings, will receive $6.5 million to build 32 new units.
· 7th and Aspen, in Bozeman, will receive $6.35 million to build 23 new units.
· Elmore Roberts Apartments, in Great Falls, will receive $6.5 million to acquire and rehabilitate 60 units.

In addition, Riverstone Senior Residences in Hamilton will receive $6.5 million to build 23 new affordable homes for seniors.

“Hamilton hasn't received a new tax credit award in 14 years and hasn't had a senior tax credit award in, I believe, 25 years – really needed in that community,” Cohen said.

The need for affordable housing in Montana is high – and so is the demand for these credits. Cohen said they typically receive about three times as many applications as they have the capacity to fund. The board chose eight projects to make full applications, and leaders said it was tough to select the five final recipients.

“All eight projects that applied are desperately needed to provide affordable, attainable housing in our communities,” said board chair Bruce Posey in a statement. “I do believe the eight applications submitted this year have been the highest quality I have seen during my tenure with the Board, making this year’s decision especially challenging.”

Cohen said, previously, the board has been able to fund 200 to 250 affordable housing units a year through these credits, but that number has gone down in recent years because of skyrocketing costs for construction and land.

The developer for the Twin Creek Apartments project is United Housing Partners. UHP founder Tyson O’Connell says the tax credits are an important tool as they move forward on the project. He expects construction to begin around August 2024.

“We greatly appreciate the support from Montana Housing for the 9% tax credit, and we’re really excited to bring more affordable housing to Helena,” O’Connell told MTN.

The tax credits are not the only way state leaders are trying to support these projects. Cohen said several of these projects, including Twin Creek and Riverstone, also received money from the state coal trust – through a program that received additional funding from House Bill 819, passed during this year’s Montana Legislature session.