Immanuel Lutheran Develops Plan for Low-Income Senior Housing in Kalispell

New facilities will offer one- and two- bedroom apartments, amenities and social spaces

By Clare Menzel

A lot of things get more difficult as we age, but senior housing provider Immanuel Lutheran Communities believes that finding an affordable place to call home shouldn’t be one of them.

Immanuel Lutheran has for 58 years offered faith-based care and housing for Flathead seniors, and this October it will apply for federal income tax credits in order to construct 40 new low-income senior-living apartments near Kalispell.

While conducting market research two years ago, Immanuel Lutheran’s CEO Jason Cronk discovered the region’s need for affordable living for seniors is greater than the national average – perhaps, in part, due to the growing elderly population. Cronk found that Kalispell’s housing market alone could support 100 new low-income residential units.

“The board immediately saw this as a mission fit,” Cronk said, referring to the not-for-profit organization’s declared purpose of providing a faith-based environment to enrich the lives of older adults.

Immanuel Lutheran Communities currently offers over 100 independent and assisted living apartments at Buffalo Hill Terrace, but these are not designated as low-income housing, according to the state of Montana’s standards.  To qualify for housing at Timber Meadows, applicants must be over the age of 55 and cannot earn more than 60% of the area’s median income, or $25,000 for one person.

The new housing unit, called Timber Meadows, will be located at 41 Meridian Court and will offer one- and two-bedroom apartments ranging from $388-$654 per month. Plans include amenities such as a library, a fitness center, a business room, an arts and crafts room, and an outdoors area with a fire pit and picnic tables.

“We’re really building a community for seniors, not just an apartment building,” said Cronk.

The current cost estimate for the center is $7.5 million. In October, the community center will submit an application and give a presentation to the Montana Board of Housing, and in January, the board will announce the tax-credit recipients. Some of the proposed construction’s cost burden may be alleviated by a federal home grant, for which Cronk is also applying.

As of August this year, 25 organizations submitted letters of intent to apply for the credit, and Cronk predicts no more than seven projects will be awarded credits. Though Cronk says the application has many strengths, including a demonstrated need in the region as well as Immanuel Lutheran’s established history in providing senior care, he also wouldn’t be surprised if it takes two or three years to receive the needed credits.

“We’re going to keep applying,” Cronk said. “We’re responding to a local need. That’s our ministry serving the community.”

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