Tax credits, renovation planned to maintain affordable housing building downtown

Community Preservation Partners is pursuing state tax credits for a renovation project at the Elmore Roberts Apartments at the corner of Central Avenue and 6th Street.

The firm presented to the Montana Board of Housing in May and has been invited back for the full tax credit application process in the fall.

The firm is planning an extensive $4.9 million rehabilitation of the building, which has 60 units, with energy efficiency and safety upgrades. The building has commercial units on the ground floor.

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During the July 18 City Commission meeting, CPP presented the project and commissioners held a public hearing on community housing needs, as required by state law for tax credits and tax exemption applications.

Commissioners do not take action on the tax credit applications.

The firm is partnering with NeighborWorks Great Falls on the project.

CPP is applying for low-income housing tax credits from the Montana Board of Housing to finance the preservation of the 60-unit apartment building as affordable housing.

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Low-income housing tax credits are federal tax credits that service as a primary financing source for rent and income restricted housing. The Montana Board of Housing administers the tax credit program in the state.

Ryan Kucich with CPP said the project would keep the current income levels for the apartments in place for another 50 years.

He said during the July 18 meeting that the plan is to preserve the affordable housing for those already living there.

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The current federal subsidy programs that keep the building as affordable housing are set to expire in December and January and the apartments are at risk of becoming market rate, which would force relocation for many current residents, Kucich told commissioners.

Kellie Pierce of the Business Improvement District and Downtown Great Falls Association said it’s a good project for downtown and across from another catalyst project, being the renovation of the Rocky Mountain Building.

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Brett Doney of the Great Falls Development Alliance said that the project is needed as “preserving affordable housing is as important as building new affordable housing.”

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He said there are several other housing projects in the works to address affordable housing and homelessness needs, including Carter Commons and the Baatz Building rehabilitation.

“We’re making projects, we’ve got a long way to go, but this is a good step forward,” Doney said.