-Martin Kidston reporting for the Missoula Current
MISSOULA – The Missoula Housing Authority will receive nearly $470,000 from a grant announced by Sen. Jon Tester this week to increase access to affordable housing and maintain existing stock.
Ten housing agencies across the state will receive a share of the funding, including Missoula, Helena, Butte, Great Falls and Billings.
“Everyone should have a place they can call home,” Tester said Monday in a statement. “From Great Falls to Glasgow, these grants will help folks find safe, accessible housing without breaking the bank.”
The Missoula Housing Authority will apply its share of the funding to modernize and maintain roughly 178 units of affordable housing across the city.
Jim McGrath, the agency’s director of HUD programs, welcomed the news.
“We’re able to go in and fix up some units – roofs, cabinets, the big things,” McGrath told the Missoula Current. “They appropriate every year, but this is more than they’ve typically had for a long time. Public housing isn’t really supported in a way you need, so we’re excited to get this funding this year.”
McGrath said the city’s stock of affordable, rent-controlled units remains tight and hasn’t grown much in recent years. But the Housing Authority is currently putting the final pieces in place to build 200 units off Scott Street.
That project has been years in the making and is expected to break ground next year. Once built, it will represent what McGrath has described as the largest affordable housing project in state history.
“We’re putting all the pieces together,” he said. “It’s a big project so there’s a lot to do. We’ve been awarded tax credits and we’ve had a few grants. We’ll get more funding from the state, probably in the fall. That’s really looking next year to break ground.”