The Missoula City Council approved nearly $700,000 in housing and public improvement projects on Monday night, along with nearly $80,000 in service grants tied to funding awarded by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

While councilors lamented the decrease in HUD funding this year over year’s past, they praised local services for their effort to end homelessness and bring food security to low-income residents.

“It’s a tragedy the funding has gone down,” said Ward 2 Councilman Jordan Hess. “It’s some of the most important federal funding we can receive. But I’m pleased to see what the different services do with this.”

The services that secured funding this year ranged from the YWCA, which received $17,000 for its emergency shelter program, and Garden City Harvest, which received $12,000 to maintain its community garden plots and provide 7,500 pounds of produce to the Missoula Food Bank.

The Missoula Food Bank also received $10,800 to provide backpack meals to children on weekends. Another $17,000 went to Missoula Aging Services to continue the Meals on Wheels program.

“This allows us to serve 38,000 meals to 228 clients in the city of Missoula who are low- to very-low income,” said Eileen Sansom, the agency’s chief programs officer. “It makes a huge difference in our clients being able to avoid a waiting list.”

Jean Harte, the grants administrator with the city, said nine grant applications were received through the Community Development Block Grant program, and four through the HOME Investment Partnerships program.

All but two requests were fulfilled, though not all agencies received the amount requested, she said.

“Requested amounts exceeded the city’s anticipated allocations from HUD,” said Harte.

Homeword Inc. emerged as this year’s largest grant recipient, taking home $485,000 to purchase land in the Old Sawmill District and build a new 26-unit apartment for low- to moderate-income residents.

The project, expected to break ground this year, will be the first to land in the Old Sawmill District. The city spent roughly $12 million to transform the district from an industrial site to a new urban center complete with a 12-acre park.

So far, however, no development has taken place, though that will change when Homeword breaks ground on Sweetgrass Commons.

“It includes one-, two- and three-bedroom units,” Julie Stiteler, housing project manager with Homeword, told the City Council. “It’s the only affordable housing program for the Old Sawmill District, which has received quite a bit of city support.”

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