City Council approves $181,000 for trailer park purchases

Martin Kidton

(Missoula Current) The Missoula City Council on Monday night approved a recommendation to issue $181,000 in reserve funding from the Affordable Housing Trust Fund to help residents of an RV park buy their homes.

Funding provided to Neighborworks Montana remains in a reserve account that was built into the trust fund program when it was established a few years ago. Additional funds are still available in a separate account for other projects, the city said.

The issue to the reserve account was decided unanimously.

“It’s important that we preserve the current affordable housing in Missoula that we already have,” Councilor Daniel Carlino said. “My hope is that in this upcoming budget we can put more and more money into the Affordable Housing Trust.”

The city is required by its housing policy to contribute at least $100,000 annually to the Affordable Housing Trust. The Missoula Redevelopment Agency also invests $1 million annually in the program and uses tax increase funding to support affordable housing projects.

The two together add up to a total of $1.1 million a year in public funding, but there’s a lot more to come.

The city also sits on nearly half a dozen properties it owns, including two entire city blocks downtown and properties on Johnson Street. The previous mayoral administration called the practice “land banking”.

One of the city’s other properties on West Broadway will go on the market in the coming weeks at a price of $890,000. A contract with Ravera LLC valued at approximately $6 million also exists for 9 acres near Scott Street. Part of this project will also include affordable housing.

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The majority of the City Council supports such alternative ways of financing the housing trust fund.

“A lot of mobile home parks are being sold so a big developer can build in high-density housing or whatever. It is important to preserve how people already live.

The city’s housing policy specialist Emily Harris-Shears said in recent months that while the reserve account is running dry, the money will help 28 households secure a more secure future by owning the land their homes stand on .

The property is in the Franklin to the Fort neighborhood, and the application submitted by Neighborworks was the only one the city received, Harris-Sheers said.

“We don’t save the reserve balance for a rainy day because it’s raining now,” she said. “This is a project that could support the preservation of 24 homes for people in our community.”