by Travis Mateer
I found a podcast about affordable housing that features Blue Line Development cofounder Nathan Richmond that I am listening to right now. It’s definitely worth a listen.
Richmond discusses how Montana has very few resources for his company to exploit for the ostensible benefit of homeless people, unlike other states where his company operates, like Colorado.
For example, the Arroyo Village in Denver is a project that combines over 130 affordable housing units with a 11,000 square foot homeless shelter. This is what Missoula’s Trinity Apartment complex project is based on, according to Richmond.
The financing of this $30 million dollar project used a tax-exempt bond, a 4% tax credit and a bunch of grants from Denver’s version of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency. Richmond acknowledges that much of Colorado’s financial support of affordable housing projects like he’s building is coming from taxes derived from Cannabis sales.
In Missoula the Trinity Apartment project DID NOT use any TIF money from the Missoula Redevelopment Agency, but I’m not sure if the reason for that is the project wasn’t eligible to use TIF, or if the family relationship between the Missoula Redevelopment Agency’s director, Ellen Buchanan, and the project manager of Trinity, Keenan Whitt (Buchanan’s daughter), created a unique barrier to utilizing this potential revenue stream for Blue Line Development.
The role of Blue Line Development at the now TRANSITIONAL Safe Outdoor Space is much murkier, and I haven’t found any podcasts featuring Nathan Richmond discussing how to put a piece of property under your wife’s name in what appears to be an effort to avoid scrutiny.
The land where Missoula’s FIRST official homeless encampment exists is a piece of property that would be difficult to develop, according to a source I talked to. The main reason is that the city sewer doesn’t extend beyond the river at Buckhouse bridge, so the land owner would need to apply for a variance of some kind.
Will “creative” solutions to the regulatory constraints of sewage disposal be a future area of inquiry for out County Commissioners? I don’t know, they currently appear too busy using the United Way and other private sector partners (read Blue Line) to hide their scheming from pesky stakeholders, like the media and the tax-paying public.
I just hope our legacy media and online upstarts can translate this emerging picture into critical questions for our political establishment as they line up behind Mayor Engen for his fifth term.
Thanks for reading.