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Silvertip Apartments

A crowd listens to speakers in the parking lot of the Silvertip Apartments in 2012 during their opening on East Broadway in Missoula. The 115-unit complex is open to qualifying low-, middle- and moderate-income residents. 

Public housing authorities in Montana – including those in Missoula and Whitefish – will share more than $2.65 million in grants from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Secretary Julián Castro announced in a news release this week that HUD will allocate $2,654,272 for public housing authorities in the state to make needed capital improvements to their properties.

The grants are provided through the department’s Capital Fund Program, which offers annual funding to about 3,100 authorities across the U.S. to build, repair, renovate or modernize public housing. The money is used to complete large-scale improvements such as replacing roofs or replacing old plumbing and electrical systems with energy-efficient upgrades.

The Missoula Housing Authority will receive $263,886 in fiscal year 2016, and the Whitefish Housing Authority will receive $54,936.

Lori Davidson, executive director of the Missoula Housing Authority, said the money will be used to modernize the 178 federally subsidized public housing units in the city, which shelter a combined 418 people.

"We haven't fully budgeted exactly what we're going to use the money for because we just got the award yesterday," Davidson said Friday. "But we're looking to modernize the kitchen and bathrooms in a lot of units. They are getting fairly dated, so that would be nice. It's an annual grant, and we typically use that money for replacing roofs. We'll be doing some landscaping at units where we've taken down diseased and dead trees and want to clean those up."

Davidson said the grant this year was larger than most years. She said MHA may replace any hot water heaters or boilers that weren't covered by grants in previous years.

About $15,600 of the grant has to be set aside to purchase new housing. But that obviously isn't enough, and Davidson isn't sure how to handle that issue yet.

“HUD has a responsibility to provide public housing residents with a quality and safe roof over their heads,” Castro noted in the release. “This funding, in addition to assistance from the private sector through HUD’s Rental Assistance Demonstration Program, will help housing authorities address longstanding capital improvements and preserve and enhance America’s affordable housing.”

Proposed by the Obama administration, the Rental Assistance Demonstration Program complements the Capital Fund Program and, in part, leverages public and private funding to make critically needed improvements.

“This funding helps to preserve critical public housing units here in the Rocky Mountain West region, which provides safe, affordable rental housing to individuals and families who are most in need,” said HUD Region 8 Administrator Rick M. Garcia. “With a $25 billion capital improvements backlog for rental housing around the country, leveraging these funds with other local financial sources can help maximize the modernization and preservation of low-income rental housing units.”

Other public housing authorities in Montana receiving Capital Fund grants are:

  • Dawson County Housing Authority, $28,427.
  • Great Falls Housing Authority, $691,410.
  • Helena Housing Authority, $431,096.
  • Housing Authority of Billings, $368,994.
  • Housing Authority of Butte, $396,886.
  • Housing Authority of Glasgow, $84,219.
  • Housing Authority of the City of Anaconda, $213,674.
  • Richland County Housing Authority, $120,744.

In 2011, HUD released “Capital Needs in the Public Housing Program,” a third-party independent study that estimated the capital needs in the public housing stock in the U.S. The study found the nation’s 1.1 million public housing units are facing an estimated $25.6 billion in large-scale repairs.

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