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Ribbon-cutting held at Havre's newest low-income housing project

 


Friday at 11 a.m. community members joined representatives from District 4 Human Resources Development Council, Montana Department of Commerce Housing Division and various other companies and organizations who contributed to the development of Antelope Court, to brave the rain and clouds to attend the ribbon-cutting for Havre’s newest low-income housing unit.

Antelope Court, located next to senior housing complex Buffalo Court on Fifth Avenue, was completed during late summer in 2017 but had to postpone the ribbon cutting until this month because of the severe and long winter.

After the ribbon cutting in front of the Antelope Court apartments, District 4 HRDC held a luncheon as a welcome for the complex and a thank-you to all the companies and organizations that helped make it a reality.

Karen Thomas, former executive Director of District 4 HRDC, said a housing project like this is needed in the Havre community — that is apparent by Antelope Court filling up almost immediately with tenants, she said.

In her speech, Thomas said that it was scary to start a process to get approval for a project like Antelope Court.

She said it was GL Development’s Gene Leuwer who approached her with the idea for more low-income housing for Havre.

“Gene was so nice,”  Thomas said. “We started at ground zero … He educated me.”

She said that Leuwer used to say to her, “Karen, everyone wants you to be successful.”

Thomas said she is appreciative that District 4 HRDC and the Montana Department of Commerce’s Housing Division were so supportive and worked so hard on this project because now “Havre has this beautiful new residence.”

Montana Department of Commerce Housing Division Executive Director Bruce Brensdal said in order for a community to thrive it needs to be healthy and this requires affordable housing.

“We have to think about affordable housing; safe places for families,” he said. “It (Antelope Court) is a beautiful project.”

“I like doing projects in towns like Havre,” Brensdal added during a speech at the luncheon. “It is essential for the community.”

He said he would also like to give a “thank you” to Gov. Steve Bullock, and Montana Department of Commerce Director Pam Haxby-Cote.

“They have strong support for affordable housing in Montana,” Brensdal said.

District 4 HRDC Executive Director Carilla French read a letter from a resident of Antelope court who said that she is a single mom and is finding Antelope Court a wonderful place to live in. She said that all the residents are friendly and the staff is great; she said she finally feels she has a comfortable place to raise her son.

HRDC Director of Employment and Training Sonya LaTray, said her friend has a similar story. She said her friend had been living with family but couldn’t move out on her own because she could not afford to rent a safe place to raise her daughter.

Since her friend moved into Antelope Court, LaTray said, she feels she has a healthy and friendly environment to live.

Antelope Court resident and local advocate for people with disabilities, Kayla LaSalle, gave a speech and said that she was excited to apply and move right in when Antelope Court opened.

She said that this kind of housing is a change for the good in Havre.

LaSalle, who is in a wheelchair and had lived with her family, is happy to be living independently now.

“Before this, there wasn’t anything assessable for younger people,” she said.

She added that she is thankful for everyone who has contributed to this housing effort including Fern Lohse, the on-site property manager for Buffalo and Antelope Court, who she said gets everything done right away.

Leuwer said that there was definitely blood, sweat and tears that went into the project and he said that he would like to thank everyone that participated in the project including Mountain Plains Equity Group, Glacier Bank and Fisher Construction.

French said she also wanted to thank each person and organization that helped lead to Antelope Court being opened. She said she was appreciative of all the organizations that were mentioned by previous speakers and also of all the HRDC Board Members for their support and of Bear Paw Development helping the city get extra loans to add to the construction of the apartment.

“This was a team effort,” Leuwer said. “We are really partners in it.”

 

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