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Grant facilitates purchase of Bitterroot Manor

Grant facilitates purchase of Bitterroot Manor

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The city of Hamilton this week secured funding for the purchase of an apartment building to maintain low-income housing for the elderly.

A $500,000 grant from the Montana Department of Commerce propelled the purchase of Bitterroot Manor - a 60-unit apartment building for seniors - by Sapphire Lutheran Homes. The faith-based, non-profit organization intends to preserve the building as low-income housing for seniors while extending benefits.

In line with a recent needs assessment, the city facilitated the purchase of Bitterroot Manor by an elder-care services provider which plans to rehabilitate the property, offer expanded services and maintain the housing for low-income elders.

"It's a terrific partnership between us and the city," said Alyce Yoakam, executive director of Sapphire Lutheran Homes. "We want to preserve low-income housing for the elderly. With us purchasing it, it will continue to stay that way."

Sapphire Lutheran Homes is purchasing the building for about $2.1 million, Yoakam said, doubling its housing in Hamilton.

Bitterroot Manor is a three-story brick building adjacent to two other buildings owned by Sapphire Lutheran Homes on Hamilton's Tenth Street. With the purchase, the organization will have a 124-residence campus serving low and middle-income seniors. It provides meal- and house-cleaning services as well as having someone on staff 24 hours a day in case of an emergency, Yoakam said.

All of the facilities operate under housing subsidies. Residents at Bitterroot Manor utilize a program under the federal Housing and Urban Development program. It is a retirement community in need of revitalization, Yoakam said.

The investor who owns the building put it on the market about two years ago, opening the door for it to be turned into market rentals, which would force most of its residents out. City officials teamed up with Sapphire Lutheran Homes to keep the building in the same housing market.

Sapphire Lutheran Homes is managed by St. John's Lutheran Ministries, the largest provider of elder housing and health-care services in Montana. The company vision is to create a comprehensive continuum of residential care at Hamilton similar to the 22-acre campus in Billings.

Hamilton was awarded the maximum amount allowed under the Montana Department of Commerce's HOME program, which doled out $4.15 million to projects across Montana.

Hamilton did the same thing in 1997, when it helped the Human Resource Council out of Missoula purchase the Parkside Apartments on Second Street to maintain affordable housing for seniors.

Reporter Jenny Johnson can be reached at 363-3300 or


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