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Current Events: Missoula affordable housing project update

white pine development
Posted at 10:56 AM, Apr 18, 2022

MISSOULA - This edition of Current Events with Missoula Current founding editor Martin Kidston takes an in-depth look at the progress of some of the affordable housing projects taking place in Missoula.

“The city bought 19 acres off Scott Street in 2019 for $6.6 million. They're using half of it -- over roughly nine acres -- in a public/private partnership with Ravara LLC to develop housing on that. Of that nine acres, three have been set aside in a land trust for permanently affordable and attainable housing,” Kidston explained.

“The deal on that three acres shows the complexity of trying to get affordable housing built in Missoula and there's a lot of moving parts in that -- with land giveaways, city loans, development partnerships. Organizing the land trust itself and who is going to manage and operate that. It's a very complicated thing and the city is closer to finalizing that and we'll see where that ends up in the end, where the costs line up, "Kidston continued. “But the end goal is to provide housing for those earning 120% of the area median income, which will bring housing a lot closer to a lot more people who qualify for housing in Missoula.”

Meanwhile, Habitat for Humanity has received some funds from the city's Affordable Housing Trust Fund.

“The Affordable Housing Trust Fund will give about $190,000 in this year's funding round to Habitat for Humanity. They're going to use that to place two modular homes on foundations in East Missoula,” Kidston noted. “That money is hard to come back, it is limited and there are a lot of applicants who want a share of that money and again it shows the complexity and the cost to providing housing in Missoula.

Additionally, some turmoil continues to surround the Grant Creek Project.

“This week they'll begin hearings on the developer’s zoning request for lower Grant Creek. They want to put quite a few apartments in there, roughly 700, a little more than current zoning allows. But it's less than what overall zoning would allow. And the odd thing is that last week the city approved a 20-lot subdivision on Greenough Heights, and they lamented the fact that the lot didn't have enough density,” Kidston said. “So, we will see if the city council is true to its word and if they actually support more density because that's what this particular developer will be requesting on Lower Grant Creek Road.”

"Last time we went through this the Grant Creek neighborhood got pretty organized and they convinced the council to kick back the zone request. The first and only time I can remember that the city council denied a zoning request to increase density,” Kidston continued. “So, we'll see if the neighborhood is successful for a second time or if the city council is true and it really wants to increase the density.”