(1) Letters of intent and applications for housing credits shall be prepared and submitted in conformance with the criteria and requirements contained in the QAP.
(2) Letters of intent and applications shall be submitted to the board on the dates specified in or otherwise designated according to the QAP. The board may extend or change any of the submission, presentation, or meeting dates or deadlines specified in the QAP if circumstances warrant, and in such event, the board will provide notice of such extension or change by posting on its web site.
(3) All projects wishing to apply for housing credits must submit a letter of intent in accordance with the requirements of the QAP.
(a) At the board's meeting in the month specified in or established in accordance with the QAP, board staff will present letters of intent to the board and the board will provide an opportunity for applicants to make a presentation regarding their projects and letters of intent and for public comment on proposed projects and letters of intent, all according to the provisions of the QAP. The board may ask questions of applicants and discuss proposed projects for purposes of assisting the board in determining which projects it will invite to submit applications and assisting applicants in presenting better applications, but such questions, answers, and discussion shall not be binding upon the board in any later award determination or other board process.
(b) After considering the letters of intent, presentations, questions and answers and discussion, the board will select those projects that it will invite to submit applications, in accordance with the provisions of the QAP. Each project so selected by the board will be deemed invited to submit an application. An application may be submitted only for a project invited by the board to submit an application and all other applications will be returned without consideration.
(4) Following submission of applications, board staff will review and evaluate each invited application for conformance with the threshold and other requirements of the QAP. Applications meeting all minimum threshold requirements and not excluded from further consideration under the QAP will be reviewed and evaluated according to all applicable QAP criteria and requirements, including but not limited to determining the amount of housing credits needed for feasibility and long-term viability, and evaluation and scoring according to the development evaluation criteria of the QAP. The points awarded to each project pursuant to the development evaluation criteria and scoring provisions of the QAP are for the purposes specified in (9), and not for purposes of ranking projects for allocation of housing credits. Following application review, evaluation and scoring, board staff may provide recommendations to the board for allocation of housing credits to qualifying projects.
(5) At the board's award determination meeting, board staff will provide application information to the board and the board will provide an opportunity for public comment on proposed projects and applications, all according to the provisions of the QAP. The board may ask questions of applicants and discuss proposed projects but there will be no applicant presentations.
(6) Copies of applications and other information submitted to the board in connection with applications are available to other applicants for housing credit projects and members of the public to the extent provided and according to the procedures specified in the board's information request and release policy, available on the board's web site at www.housing.mt.gov.
(7) At one or more regularly scheduled board meetings each year, as specified in or otherwise designated according to the QAP, the board will hear public comment and consider award of housing credit allocations in accordance with the QAP. The award of housing credit allocations is not a contested case and the award meeting is not a contested case hearing under Title 2, chapter 4, part 6, MCA.
(8) At the award determination meeting provided under (7), applicants should be available to the board to answer questions regarding their respective applications and shall be provided a brief opportunity to make comments and respond to any information presented regarding their applications.
(9) The board will select those projects to receive an award of housing credits that it determines best meet the most pressing housing needs of low income people within the state of Montana, taking into consideration the selection criteria as defined in the QAP. The awarding of points to projects pursuant to the development evaluation criteria of the QAP is for purposes of determining that the projects meet at least the minimum criteria required for further consideration under the QAP and to assist the board in evaluating and comparing projects. Development evaluation criteria scoring is only one of several considerations taken into account by the board and does not control the selection of projects that will receive an award of housing credits. In addition to any other selection criteria specified in the QAP, the board may consider the following factors in selecting projects for an award of housing credits to qualifying projects:
(a) the geographical distribution of housing credit projects;
(b) the rural or urban location of the projects;
(c) the overall income levels targeted by the projects (including deeper targeting of income levels);
(d) the need for affordable housing in the community, including but not limited to current vacancy rates;
(e) rehabilitation of existing low income housing stock;
(f) sustainable energy savings initiatives;
(g) financial and operational ability of the applicant to fund, complete, and maintain the project through the extended use period;
(h) past performance of an applicant in initiating and completing tax credit projects;
(i) cost of construction, land, and utilities, including but not limited to costs/credits per square foot/unit;
(j) the project is being developed in or near a historic downtown neighborhood; and/or
(k) the frequency of awards in the respective areas where projects are located.