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Multifamily housing

About $7.3 million in federal stimulus money has been tagged for a new affordable housing development known as Whitetail Run in the Heights.

With windows designed to capture sunlight in the winter and avoid it in the summer, the 32-unit development will sit on a nearly 14-acre area owned by the Billings Housing Authority on Lake Elmo Drive near Sioux Lane. It is the first construction planned for what agency officials hope will become a subdivision for low-income residents.

Lucy Brown, executive director of the Billings Housing Authority, said the funds will help shorten a waiting list of 1,600 people who qualify for affordable housing in Billings.

"We never have enough housing to serve the very low-income in our community," Brown said.

The money for the housing is expected to come in two parts: $4.7 million in tax credits over the next 10 years for investors in the project and more than $2.6 million reserved for reimbursing the Housing Authority for some of the development's costs.

Overall, the Montana Board of Housing is receiving about $7.8 million in tax-credit funding for developers and owners of affordable housing from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

According to Brown, affordable housing developers in Montana were getting a return of 89- to 95-cents on each dollar of investment, but that has recently dropped to as low as 66-cents on the dollar.

Plans for the Whitetail Run development show eight fourplexes, with units fanned around an interior court. As funds become available, a playground, community gardens and half-court for basketball also are planned. The development also must meet or exceed energy-use standards.

"The big thing we were charged with is to make sure they were energy-efficient and carry some ele-ments of green design," said Allen Rapacz, president of Schutz Foss Architects, which designed Whitetail Run.

In addition to their advantageous sunlight placement, the units will include Energy Star appliances, high-efficiency forced-air furnaces, high-efficiency windows and super-insulated walls and attics.

The funding boon for Whitetail comes right after the Housing Authority completed three new units at 1547 Westchester Square. Schutz Foss also designed those units.

"We used that as a bit of a prototype for this design," Rapacz said.

In addition to the projected boost from stimulus money, the Housing Authority also is dedicating about $400,000 from its savings to Whitetail Run. The development also depends on $200,000 in infrastructure funds for sewers and streets in area that was recently approved by the city.

The Housing Authority hopes to begin accepting bids for the housing construction in September and award them by the end of October. The goal is to complete the project by the spring of 2011.

The units, which will have between two and four bedrooms, will be available to individuals or families making between 30 and 60 percent of the area's median income level.

Contact Kahrin Deines at or 657-1392.