Whitefish eyes tax credits for housing project

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The Whitefish Housing Authority plans to vie for low-income housing tax credits that could pave the way for an affordable housing complex in Whitefish.

A presentation on the proposed project will be presented at a Whitefish City Council work session at 6 p.m. Monday, March 5.

The low-income housing tax credit is a federal income tax credit for owners of qualifying rental housing that meets certain low-income occupancy and rent limitation requirements.

Housing tax credits are the primary funding source for affordable housing development across the United States. The Montana Board of Housing, the state agency that allocates housing tax credits for housing in Montana, generally can fund the construction or rehabilitation of about 200 rental units each year.

It’s a competitive process, and the need typically is much greater than the number of tax credits awarded.

Whitefish Housing Authority is working with Missoula-based nonprofit Homeword in developing the proposal, according to Whitefish Housing Authority Executive Director Lori Collins.

“We’re at the very beginning stages,” Collins said. “We’re looking for land; we don’t have the land yet. We’re looking at possible sites, but we don’t have anything shored up.”

A housing complex of about 32 to 35 units is being considered.

Heather McMilin, housing development director of Homeword, will attend the council work session for the presentation that will offer general information about how housing tax credits work.

The letter of intent for the housing tax-credit application is due in early May, with the full application due in August.

Several Flathead Valley housing projects have benefited from housing tax credits. Most recently the Little Jon Apartments in Bigfork were renovated using the tax credits for a $4.3 million project.

Whitefish lost out on a housing tax-credit project two years ago. Investors from The Commonwealth Companies hoped to use the funding develop a 36-unit project near Les Schwab Tires, but the application was denied.

The work session will be held at Whitefish City Hall; the regular council meeting follows at 7:10 p.m.

Features editor Lynnette Hintze may be reached at 758-4421 or lhintze@dailyinterlake.com.

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