Missoula Current: Missoula to receive $1.3M from ARPA earmarked for affordable housing

Editor’s Note: The City Council has not yet appointed the members of the Affordable Housing Oversite Committee, as stated in an early version of this story. The committee members are still being interviewed.

Missoula received an unexpected but welcome boost from the American Rescue Plan in the form of $1.3 million earmarked for affordable housing.

The revenue, announced this week by Sen. Jon Tester, can be used to support the construction or purchase of affordable housing, along with the rehabilitation of housing for low-income families.

“Montana is staring down the barrel of an affordable housing crisis,” Tester said in a press release announcing the funding. “Because of this pandemic, more and more families are struggling to pay the bills.”

Missoula has taken a number of steps in recent years to address not only the city’s lack of a sufficient housing inventory, but also its lack of affordable housing.

The City Council will soon appointed the first members to the new Affordable Housing Oversite Committee and last year, it adopted a new housing policy.

The city also established a housing trust fund and deposited around $750,000 into the account for seed funding during last year’s budgeting process. A number of other funds have been deposited into the account over the last year, including funding from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency.

The city’s goal is to establish a running annual balance of around $5 million. The funding secured by Tester helps in that goal. He was the only member of the state delegation to support the funding, he said.

“I’m proud to have worked with Montanans to secure this critical funding through the American Rescue Plan, because it’s going to help folks in Missoula keep a roof over their heads while we get our economy back on track,” he said.

The funding is distributed by Housing and Urban Development through the HOME Investments Partnership Program, which works to expand the supply of affordable housing for low-income families.

The city will also receive around $14.1 million from the American Rescue Plan, though it’s not yet known how and where the funding can be spent. The state will receive around $2 billion, and some Legislator’s want a portion of that distributed to cities and counties for affordable housing.

Along with Missoula, Billings will receive around $1.2 million for affordable housing and Great Falls around $1 million. Statewide, Tester secured more than $11 million earmarked for housing.