Hearing on need for affordable senior housing project on July 6 commission agenda

During their July 6 meeting, the City Commission will conduct a public hearing related to community housing needs for a proposed affordable senior apartment building.

The hearing is a requirement as part of the application process for low-income housing tax credits, which will be administered through the Montana Board of Housing. The commission will not take any action on the application and a record of the hearing will be submitted to the state.

“LIHTCs are a federal tax credit which serve as a financing source for rent and income restricted housing. They are the main financing source for affordable multifamily homes in the United States. Receiving these tax credits is a competitive process. Carter Commons will be competing with other projects from around the state for this limited resource,” according to the city staff report.

The project, Carter Commons, would be located on 3rd Street, across from Carter Park.

According to the developer, Housing Solutions, LLC, the project would include 36 one- and two-bedroom apartments for those 55 and older with income restrictions.

If the project receives the tax credits, it will go through the city’s normal development and construction permitting process.

Kim Thiel-Schaff, director Cascade County aging services, submitted a letter in support of the project and wrote that it would address a “critical need in Great Falls for additional affordable housing for seniors as well as the need to ensure that their housing is safe, well maintained, and provides for their independence. The location of this project between downtown and 10th Avenue South provides accessibility to City-County Health, Alluvion, the Great Falls Transit
Hub, other government services and businesses that provide goods and services to seniors.”

Most affordable housing in the community has waiting lists, Thiel-Schaff wrote, rents are increasing and there’s a low supply of safe housing.

Housing Solutions was formed in 2012 and has seven projects completed in three states, including Montana, as well as North Dakota and Wyoming. Within the state, they have complete projects in Kalispell, Missoula, Glendive and Polson.

According to a preliminary market study by the company, there are 317 new senior homes needed and the last senior development project in Great Falls that was funded through the tax credits was in 2015.

Projects will be selected and notified of funding in October and if the Carter Commons project is selected, the developer’s timeline shows construction would begin summer of 2022 and be completed summer 2023.