It's no secret that real estate prices across Montana have been rapidly climbing. The rental market in Billings is mirroring that trend and finding affordable apartments is becoming a real challenge for many. Excluding senior citizen apartments, the popular rental website FreeRentalFinder.com lists just seven two-bedroom apartments currently available for under $1,000 per month (7/2).

There are only four three-bedroom rentals available, all mobile homes, for under $1,000. Renters looking for a house to lease will be lucky to find anything for under $1200 a month, with many single-family houses in desirable neighborhoods approaching $2,000 (or more) per month.

Michael Foth - Townsquare Media

A new project on Billings South Side will add 26 affordable rental units.

Community Leadership & Development, Inc. (CLDI) announced in a July 1 press release they have purchased additional property on the 2900 block of 1st Ave South, including the building that is currently the home of Galles Filter and Exhaust. Construction of the apartments, called "Tapestry" is expected to begin on the empty lot behind Galles (seen above) in spring of 2022. The auto supply wholesaler will move when it finds a new location and a yet-to-be-announced project will take it's place.

Michael Foth - Townsquare Media

CLDI has been doing cool stuff for the South Side for 40 years.

The non-profit, faith-based organization is heavily involved in South Side revitalization efforts and community programs. The attractive Rail Line Coffee shop at the corner of 29th St and 1st Ave S is one example. CLDI's website says,

Since 2016, CLDI has invested over $4.2 million to remove blight and re-develop two dilapidated buildings on S. 29 th Street. These two projects alone have drastically improved the perception of the South Side as an entry into downtown.

The group also runs Hannah House, a recovery home for women that has been serving Billings since 2012.

Getty Images/Ridofranz

The new apartments will increase CLDI's portfolio to nearly 100 affordable rental units.

They've been helping people purchase affordable housing for years and currently own or manage around 65 properties in their rental portfolio. Giving renters a second chance is part of their mantra, offering rental opportunities for individuals with low-income, poor rental history, poor credit, criminal backgrounds and other typically negative factors.

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Most of CLDI's funding comes primarily from individual private donations. Executive Director Eric Basye said the group operates with very little debt and a number of local foundations and charitable trusts contribute to their efforts. A recent grant from the Gianforte Family Foundation helped launch the new apartment project and they're working with the Mountain Plains Equity Group in application to the Montana Board of Housing for federal low-income housing tax credits to help finance and build the Tapestry project.

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