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Future of low-income housing uncertain


Dave Bennett has been the owner of four low-income housing units in Sanders County for quite some time. Being close to retirement, Bennett says it is time to pass the torch to someone else.

“I have had them for 39 years and I am just tired,” Bennett said about managing the complexes – one in Trout Creek, one in Plains and two in Thompson Falls.

That being said, the housing units are for sale, and have been for roughly two years.

The management has been wonderful according to Bennett, and there are no hard feelings forcing the sale. He commented that there was some sewage and roofing work that needed to be done, and he had to provide a loan for the work to be fulfilled. Although he stated that this rarely happens, “I just don’t need these surprises at retirement age.”

Sanders County Community Housing Organization (SCCHO) considered purchasing the properties, but according to Jim Jacobson, Executive Director for SCCHO, the county just doesn’t have the money available. According to Bennett, they have officially bowed out of the purchase.

Jacobson met with county commissioners last week and discussed the struggles the county has had with being awarded low-income housing grants. “We need a growth plan in place to get our grant applications more competitive,” Jacobson stated. He added that points are earned for applicants who have growth plans in place and without this, the county does not have a chance of being considered for funding.

As it stands, the county commissioners are not considering adopting a growth plan, according to Jacobson referencing last week’s meeting.

The search for a purchaser for Bennett’s housing units will continue whether the county is on board or not. “I’d like to see the low-income subsidy stay with the buildings, but I also want them gone,” Bennett said. He added that he hopes to sell them together, in one sale.

The complexes include 22 apartments that vary from one to three bedrooms and have about 25 residents total.

The housing units are well funded by the government according to Bennett. He commented that there can be quite a bit when it comes to taxes, upkeep, management fees and repairs. He recommends that someone who has some assets, to make the surprise repairs as they arise, consider purchasing the units and retain the low-income support.

“There are a lot of little old ladies who only get a couple hundred dollars a month,” Bennett began addressing the community service and stewardship aspect of the housing project. “Where are they going to rent for that?”

Bennett is highly motivated to sell and commented that he “literally cannot give them away,” as he has a financial investment in the properties.

As of now, SCCHO has five low-income housing units in Plains. The Lion’s Manor, SCCHO’s units and Bennett’s complexes all have “significant waiting lists,” according to Jacobson. Sometime in the future, though not near, Jacobson is hopeful there will be four to six low-income housing units in Noxon. SCCHO is currently seeking funding for this project.

For more information, Bennett can be reached at his realty office, (406) 827-4663, and Jacobson can be contacted at (406) 541-7183.


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