The Rocky Mountain Development Council will receive $7,790,000 in federal tax credits for a new affordable housing complex planned for Helena's Westside.

Gov. Steve Bullock announced Tuesday that Helena's 85-unit Red Alder Residences will be one of five recipients selected by the Montana Board of Housing to receive the federal credits for new affordable housing. The board also awarded $8,023,103 to Chapel Court in Billings, $3,881,250 to Oakwood Village in Havre, $4,182,970 to Meadowlark Vista in Ronan and $6,750,000 to HA-HW Project in Whitefish for a total of $30.6 million.

Red Alder Residences will be located at the corner of Henderson and Brady streets. The total project investment of $8,268,072 is expected to result in 111 Montana jobs earning $5 million in wages and salaries supported by construction activity. 

Liz Mogstad, the affordable housing director for RMDC, said the combination of the new federal housing credits and another noncompetitive tax credit had notched 86 percent of the Red Alder's funding. The rest will be funded with a mortgage, along with several grants RMDC hopes to win. 

RMDC executive director Lori Ladas said the credits were "critical to make the project work."

The planning for the Helena project began a year ago. Red Alder will be geared toward people making enough money to be excluded from government assistance, but still struggling to make ends meet.

"There are a lot of people in Helena working entry level government jobs," Mogstad said. "This project is unique because it will be geared to those higher incomes."

The Red Alder Residences will have 42 units with one bedroom, 31 with two bedrooms and 12 with three bedrooms. One-bedroom apartments would rent for $336-695 per month, depending on income, while two- and three-bedroom units would rent for $408-989 per month.

In July, the Helena City Commission threw its support behind the Red Alder project. Streamlining the application and permitting process and providing some breaks on construction costs are a few of the ways the city can help.  "We're going to do everything possible to support this project," said interim City Manager Dennis Taylor. 

Taylor said the commission submitted a letter of support to the Board of Housing and is now working on providing transportation to the Brady and Henderson intersection. "Red Alder will address many of Helena's needs," Taylor said. 

Both the city and RMDC are discussing expanding the Helena Public Transportation services to include the Red Alder Residences, something both Taylor and Mogstad believe will help the seniors, working professionals and families who would be living there.

RMDC is aiming to finish the planning process by winter 2019 and complete construction by spring 2020, but Ladas cautioned against firm dates. "There are a lot of balls in the air," Ladas said.

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Crime and Health Reporter

Crime and health reporter for the Helena Independent Record.

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