GREAT FALLS — NeighborWorks Great Falls hosted an official groundbreaking ceremony at the Baatz Block Apartments in downtown Great Falls on Thursday, October 19, 2023.
"We came together as a community to put this together," said NWGF Director, Sherrie Arey. "We have so many partners, so it is important to have this celebration. We've been working for two years to put this together. We've come together in the planning, all of the support services, the financing, all of those. This is our celebration so that when we start next week with construction, we all know how we got here."
Arey said "our community has really rallied behind this. There's been every opportunity and every gap that we saw. There's been someone or some organization standing up and saying, 'We're able to do that,' whether it's the Great Falls Housing Authority to help us with Section eight vouchers, the city or the county with funding many of our service providers, Opportunities Inc., and Many Rivers Whole Health. Everyone has jumped in and said, 'let me help and try to figure out what's the what's the problem we're trying to solve and how do we help make value in that.'"
The building is designed to be permanent supportive housing with 25 apartments and wrap-around services for people transitioning out of homelessness.
The property at 400 Second Avenue South, built in 1913, will undergo a restoration to return the façade and much of the interior to its original appearance.
Construction to renovate the block will begin this month and be completed at the end of 2024. The apartments will be operational by early 2025.
From the NeighborWorks website:
The building will contain 25 apartments targeted towards individuals who have previously experienced homelessness. Residents of the apartments will pay rent, have a lease and have one on one support from a case manager to help build independent living and tenancy skills as well as be connected to community based physical and mental healthcare services. The first floor of the building will house both case management professionals as well as the community-based service providers.
"Permanent supportive housing is not just a roof over someone's head,” said Sherrie Arey, the director of NeighborWorks Great Falls. “It's a foundation upon which lives can be rebuilt, hope can be restored, and chronic homelessness can be conquered. It's a testament to our community’s commitment to compassion and humanity, recognizing that every individual, regardless of their past, deserves the opportunity for stability and a chance to thrive."
NWGF Director of Real Estate, Casey More stated, "This is a huge milestone for this project. We've been working on this for a really long time. I've been with NeighborWorks for about a year and a half and attending all of our architect meetings weekly with all our different funders. To finally know that this is breaking ground, and we are starting construction and soon it will house 25 residents for their future in housing."
Low-income housing tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing, as well as funding from the City of Great Falls and Cascade County, make this project possible. Funding includes historic tax credits, HOME funds, ARPA funds, HTF funds, and HOME ARP funds. The Baatz Block is the first permanent supportive housing model in Great Falls, and only the second in Montana using tax credits.