Rick Garcia told the crowd gathered Tuesday at the new Silvertip Apartments on East Broadway there are numerous reasons he might want to be in Missoula in mid-July: the acres of wilderness to enjoy, the historic downtown, the breweries.

Instead, “I’m really here to help you celebrate a unique, creative project of Silvertip,” said the Region 8 director for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Garcia joined local officials to celebrate the opening of the 115-unit affordable housing complex Tuesday.

Built by a partnership between the Rocky Mountain Development Group, the city of Missoula and the Missoula Housing Authority, Silvertip has introduced a new kind of affordable housing to the area, said Mike Bouchee, Rocky Mountain vice president in charge of the Silvertip project.

Silvertip was financed by a mix of public and private funding and will be open to qualifying low-income residents as well as those with middle to moderate incomes. University of Montana students also will be able to live at Silvertip.

“This is kind of the ultimate Missoula project. It’s a testament to the community we live in,” Bouchee said.

The Silvertip complex sits along the Clark Fork River with Mount Jumbo looming to the north and Mount Sentinel to the south. The lot that was once home to the Missoula Athletic Club now has three buildings filled with one- and two-bedroom units and a community building.

Twenty Silvertip units are owned by the Missoula Housing Authority and will be rented to tenants who earn less than 30 percent of the median area income. The other units will serve other income groups, including 83 for tenants earning less than 80 percent of the median area income.

The mix is designed to create a thriving, sustainable community, Bouchee said.

Missoula Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Davidson noted during the ceremony that most anyone making up to $70,000 can apply to live at Silvertip. MHA’s mission is to provide quality housing solutions for low- and middle-income families. “Talk about living your mission,” Davidson said.


It took four years of planning and paperwork to get the financing package in place for Silvertip.

Bouchee and Rocky Mountain co-owners Rick Wishcamper and Justin Metcalf began working on the Silvertip deal in 2009, and bought the former athletic club property in 2010. The firm focuses almost exclusively on acquiring and rehabilitating affordable housing communities. This is its only project in Missoula.

Silvertip was funded in part by a $5 million HUD Neighborhood Stabilization Program grant, the largest chunk of neighborhood stabilization money awarded in Montana and the only grant for a multifamily housing project. The partners also secured a $6.75 million loan from HUD’s Multifamily Housing Program.

The Missoula Housing Authority provided $1 million to the project from funds secured by the sale of other affordable housing units.

HUD estimates show that 52 percent of Missoula’s renters are “cost burdened,” spending more than 30 percent of their income for housing costs.

Garcia, who works out of HUD’s Denver-based Region 8 office, praised the “unprecedented collaboration” of the partners involved. Silvertip exemplifies how creative thinking can overcome national hurdles to creating affordable housing, he said.

Silvertip property manager Kyle Graybeal led people on tours of the new units after the ribbon-cutting ceremony. The units include all amenities and rent covers all utilities except electricity.

Applications are available through MHA. Many have already been filled out. The waiting list is long for MHA-qualifying renters and Graybeal expects the complex to fill up fast.

Move-in should begin Aug. 1, Graybeal said.

Reporter Jenna Cederberg can be reached at 523-5241 or at jenna.cederberg@missoulian.com.

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(6) comments


Spoken like a true teacher who never gives up on self-serving endeavors. Open the school now & enjoy 5-8 students per classroom. Nice work if you can get it. The rental prices WILL change with demand. These are beautifully located for student housing & are in need. Financially qualified students should be given priority, since their education lessens the entitlement load to Montana. The location lessens the need for car transportation. Perhaps Engen can run a city owned free school bus for them. However, we are looking at the next Missoula SLUM if unit interior & exterior maintenance rules are not established & firmly enforced with constant, regular inspections. Garbage control & snow removal are other musts. And lastly, I can see violent conflicts occurring over parking conflicts. Don't like that? Don't live there. If these issues aren't addressed, they will become slums along the beautiful gateway entry to Missoula. Individuals who live in these units across the country seem to believe that this maintenance is the responsibility of the rich tax payer, & not theirs. But, Obama paid for them, not we few working Montanans.


Welcome to the future of Missoula. No gardens, no orchards......no streets lined with large tree's. No steamy clouds from the pulp mill, no buzz saws from the plywood mill......no growl from the jake brake of a semi full of logs. No thriving middle class.......no, that is the old Missoula.

No we have the federal government once again flexing his big arm here in Missoula. The truth is, the slum lords at Rocky Mountain Development Group would not have invested a penny in this tidy,slime green conglomerate of barracks. In other words, if HUD would have stayed out, these ugly buildings would not be there.

As people have already learned, the rents are nothing special, and better deals will be found elsewhere. The developers have piggy-backed on the feds to get special tax exemptions and credits in exchange for moderate rents, but this is a farce.

And tell me......if you qualify at the 80% threshhold, are you going to live in these green slime boxes next to the derelict that qualified at the 30% threshhold. Answer is NO.....you will not want to live by them and their basket of problems.

On the other hand......the "Slime" project is a smashing success for Mayor Pork Chop and his friends at the Obama administration. They can't can't give away taxpayer monies fast enough, and if you like that now, you will LOVE it when Obama is in hid 2ND TERM and can really loosen the check book (And pound every last penny out from under your mattress).

By the way........have you seen any NEW manufacturing in Missoula lately? Maybe a new mill? How about a call center? ANYTHING?

SO much for having a UNIVERSITY in Missoula.......it has attracted nothing bu rapist and hippies. Sad......but the Garden City is long gone.


I have some friends that went to the viewing of these "2 bedroom apartments". I don't know who they expect to live in them because the entire apartment is so small, it would only be suitable for a single person, and they want almost 900 dollars a month if you do not get rent assistance. Talk about a waste of money..


What a lengthy story on a new affordable-housing complex without one single sentence on how much rent the tenants will pay.

Very poor reporting.


Here is some more information that I would have liked to see included..."Fair market rents are $722/month for a two-bedroom unit, and $572 for a one-bedroom unit, OR 35% of gross income, whichever is less"

Fighting 4 Missoula

There are two schools within the vicinity of this new subdivision, Mount Jumbo School in East Missoula and Prescott School in the lower Rattlesnake. Both these schools were closed in 2004 and later leased to Walla Walla College and the Missoula International School, respectivlely.

School Board members approved long term leases for both of these school to the tenants. In the case of the lease of Prescott School, the lease to a competing private school willl cost the district millions of dollars over the life of the lease in lost revenue (this according to a math professor).

The owners of this subdivision need to go the school board and make sure that Prescott School is re-opened as soon as possible. More people in this area need to stand up for their neighborhood schools. Mount Jumbo School needs to be re-opened as well as this neighborhood is transitioning from retirees to young families as are all of our neighborhoods (per a Missoula economist).

Just recently, in February, the school district proposed to send the children in this subdivision, as well as other parts of this area, to Paxson. Abruptly they changed their minds and decided to build an expensive modular at Rattlesnake School. This modular is only two rooms. School officials chose to ignore their own demographic report. This report reveals that the school population will increase quite substantially over the next few years. Therefore, the modular is only a stop gap measure.

This area needs Prescott School for public school students. We have disloyal School Board Trustees that have catered to private schools for much too long - remember that Roosevelt School was one of our public schools not too long ago (and now we need it (!).

Again, I appeal to the owners and occupants of this subdivision to talk with School Board Members and demand that they vote to re-open Prescott School for the sake of the children that will live in their apartments.

P.S. Shame on you School Board Members for voting for the lease extension of Prescott School when you knew about the building of this subdiviision or should have known about if you didn't. What about all those meetings with the city planning department and the school district's public relations officer, Lesli Brassfield? I guess they were a waste of time!

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