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Affordable Housing Projects In Havre, Helena, Joliet, Laurel Win Coal Tax Loans

A tan housing complex
Montana Department of Commerce
Oakwood Village is a 60-unit affordable housing development for individuals and families in Havre, Montana.

  The Montana Department of Commerce announced Apr. 9 over $11 million in low-interest loans will be distributed to affordable housing projects in Havre, Helena, Joliet and Laurel. The funding comes from the state’s Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program.

Several developers recently received the green light from the Montana Board of Housing to use state funding from a program signed into law last year to buy and rehabilitate nearly 170 rental units in four communities.

Affiliated Developers, a Michigan-based non-profit that specializes in the preservation and development of affordable housing, was approved for a $3.6 million loan Monday.

Executive Director Kirk Bruce says the organization bought Oakwood Village, a 60-unit affordable housing development for individuals and families in Havre, Montana. He hopes they’ll be able to start work this June to make the units more energy efficient, which means lower utility costs for tenants.

"We’re doing a lot of energy-efficient, green materials, energy-efficient appliances, windows, we’re putting in energy-efficient insulation, LED-lighting, water-saving toilets, faucets, solar panels," Bruce says.

He says this is Affiliated Developer’s third construction project in Montana.

The Missoula-based company Wishcamper Development Partners intends to use its nearly $2.7 million to buy and rehabilitate 44 units for seniors and tenants with special needs at Fire Tower Apartments in Helena.

Helena-based GL Development was awarded $5 million to do the same for 62 units for seniors at Pleasant View Apartments in Joliet and Spruce Grove Apartments in Laurel.

A Department of Commerce spokesperson said rehabilitation work on the units is often done while the tenant remains in the apartment. He said occasionally a tenant is temporarily moved to a vacant unit while work is taking place, but the person is rarely moved off the property.

The Multifamily Coal Trust Homes program provides housing developers with low-interest rate loans to build, buy and rehabilitate multi-family homes to provide communities more affordable rental housing.

Loans from the program can also be used to buy land for multifamily rental homes and land trusts for mobile or manufactured homes. When the loans are paid off, the money will be returned to the fund to support future housing projects.

The program is a result of House Bill 16, which passed during the 2019 legislative session and was signed by Governor Steve Bullock.

In February, projects in Belt, Cascade, Havre and Livingston were selected to receive loans through the state’s Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program.