City considering $1.2 million in federal funds for affordable housing rehabilitation

City Commissioners will consider approving $1,231,657 in HOME Investment Partnerships Program funds during their Nov. 7 meeting to NeighborWorks Great Falls for the purchase and restoration of the Ulmer Square property.

Staff is recommending approval.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development established the HOME program to provide grants to state and local governments to fund building, buying and rehabilitating affordable housing.

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“HOME is designed exclusively to facilitate the creation of affordable housing for low-income individuals,” according to the city staff report.

HUD annually allocates HOME funds to the city.

NeighborWorks Great Falls submitted a grant application to purchase the property at 619-621 3rd Ave. S., known as Ulmer Square.

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The 22,520-square-foot property includes a multi-family residential structure with eight one-bedroom apartments.

NWGF is planning to acquire and restore the property with exterior improvements include siding, insulation, front doors, railings, landscaping, and drainage limitations, according to the staff report.

Planned interior improvements include new flooring, paint, appliances, bathroom fixtures, and heating/cooling systems.

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NWGF plans to continue leasing all of the units at HUD-approved rates and that no current residents will be displaced.

The city’s internal grant committee reviewed and approved the application. HUD also authorized the use of HOME funds for the project, which is in line with the city’s annual action plan and would preserve affordable housing and improving the property.

“The purchase and restoration of property for affordable housing purposes is a central tenant of the HOME program. Affordable housing is a pressing need in the Great Falls area. This proposal will address this need while adhering to the original ambitions of the funding,” according to the staff report.

If approved, the project will be funded through program income from HOME funded activities. Similar to the Community Development Block Grant revolving loan fund, a HOME recipient may use program income resulting from HOME funded activities to fund other projects as long as they meet the same city and HUD eligibility requirement, according to the staff report.