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City approves funding required to keep historic apartments affordable

Posted at 5:42 PM, May 22, 2024

GREAT FALLS — At Tuesday night’s meeting, Great Falls City Commissioners approved for the use of $430,000 in tax increment funding to go towards the rehabilitation of the Elmore Roberts Apartments.

That money is the last bit of fundraising needed for a project which will cost roughly $5.7 million dollars. Other funding has been secured from federal historic tax credits and low income housing tax credits as well as coal trust funds.

This act can be credited by the passing of Montana Senate Bill 388, which allows for the inclusion of workforce housing to undergo rehab projects.

The Elmore Roberts complex houses seven commercial properties and 60 apartment units. It is recognized as an affordable housing complex, where tenants pay 30% of their income towards the rent.

The federal subsidy which helps keep units affordable is set to expire later this year. Upon expiration, a room would go for ‘market-price’. This would price most current tenants out, and force them to relocate.

“There's people that work downtown here, and it's important to have a workforce for the businesses down here,” says City Commissioner, Shannon Wilson.

Developer group Elmore Roberts Community Partners is set to convert the building’s current contract to a 20-year housing assistance contract with the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

This would ensure the units remain affordable for residents. They also plan to use money to install energy-efficient appliances, apply a fresh coat of paint, and make repairs to the buildings facade.

“This is going to stabilize this historic building for another 50 years and provide great housing downtown for people who can't afford normal housing around town,” says Wilson.

The project is slated to begin later this summer, and conclude in December. Tenants will be relocated while their rooms are updated, and compensated for their time away from home.

The developers are based outside of Montana, but have helped rehabilitate more than 14,000 apartments in 16 states.