Tax credit helps Missoula YWCA wrap up another phase of financing for family shelter

An architect’s rendering of the YWCA shelter for domestic violence victims and homeless families.

By this time next year, the YWCA Missoula hopes to open its Family Housing Center and Domestic Violence Shelter at 1800 S. Third St. W.

That effort received a significant boost this month when the YWCA received a New Markets Tax Credit and a First Security Bank investment loan, completing another phase of financing for the $12 million facility.

The New Markets Tax Credit is a federal program administered by community development lender MoFi. Its $2.25 million contribution was critical to completion of the new shelter, said Cindy Weese, YWCA Missoula executive director.

“We had a significant gap … an $8 million capital campaign with a gap of over $2 million – that’s where the New Markets Tax Credit comes in at $2.25 million,” she said Tuesday.

First Security Bank’s loan amounts to a community investment in the 36,750 square-foot facility, she added. 

“In return for their investment, they get a tax credit,” Weese said. “Those funds are used to build this community facility.”

MoFi president Dave Glaser echoed Weese’s emphasis on the teamwork surrounding the project. 

“YWCA Missoula had a bold vision to expand, but even with community support and the generosity of donors, like so many nonprofits, they found the financing to follow through on their vision was a huge hurdle to overcome,” said Glaser. “We are thrilled to partner with the YWCA and First Security Bank of Missoula to provide the capital needed to move forward and, in doing so, invest in a place that will improve the lives of some of Missoula’s most vulnerable children and adults for generations to come.”

The New Markets Tax Credit program, enacted in 2000, is a bipartisan effort to spur private investment and economic growth in low-income urban neighborhoods and rural communities that lack access to the capital needed to support and grow businesses, create jobs and sustain healthy local economies. 

Credits are awarded annually via a competitive process. So far, MoFi has received nearly $600 million in New Markets Tax Credits. MoFi works with investors to turn the credits into cash, then applies the cash to fund catalytic development projects in Montana, Idaho and Wyoming. 

The tax credit program supported recent programs such the nonprofit Family Service in Billings, Ace Hardware in Butte and Blackfeet Community College in Browning.

“It’s another great example of the New Markets program bringing federal investment into projects that align with community needs and catalyze real, lasting change,” Glaser said of the YWCA Missoula project.

Breaking ground for the new shelter earlier this year were (left to right) Missoula YWCA executive director Cindy Weese, Missoula Interfaith Collaborative executive director Casey Dunning, and donors and supporters Angela and Stephen Hardy, Kathy Veazey, and Phyllis and Bill Bouchee. (Dave Stalling/Missoula Current)

However, Weese said the YWCA’s parallel capital campaign still has $1.2 million left to raise. She wants the new building to open debt-free next year.

“We are reaching out to everyday people in everyday places to see if they can help,” she said.

Currently, 12 families on are a waiting list for the family housing center, which serves homeless families with dependent children, she said. YWCA Missoula partners with Family Promise of the Missoula Interfaith Collaborative to provide shelter on a rotating basis to families. The collaborative comprises 28 churches and congregations who offer their buildings as housing on a rotating basis.

The separate Domestic Violence portion of the organization confidentially, safely serves those in need of shelter and protection from violent homes. 

Bottom line: The new building will allow YWCA Missoula to serve more people – and quickly, too, between the shelter and the family housing units. 

“We will have the ability to serve up to 44 families at a time: 31 homeless families in the family housing center wing and 13 families fleeing domestic violence,” said Weese.

The YWCA now houses families in safe, secure and confidential motels, studio apartments and apartments. 

“We increase the number of rooms in the winter, but still we don’t have enough funds to match the need,” Weese said. “So during the winter, we help families patch together a place to stay. We work with the Poverello Center and the police department for (motel) vouchers to make sure no family is in their car or camping out where it’s below freezing.”

At the new facility, a staff of full-time social workers and trained advocates will serve in the Domestic Violence Shelter. In Family Housing, a staff of three full-time and one part-time employee will oversee programs.

When finished, the new building will offer double the current capacity for the Domestic Violence Shelter, plus an overflow space will exist for six additional homeless families in the new building.

The new facility will also combine under one roof the YWCA administration and programming, including crisis counseling, children’s programs and weekly support groups.

Contact Missoula Current Business Reporter Renata Birkenbuel of at renatab@missoulacurrent.com.