The importance of financial stability and security of a home one can afford has always been essential to the strength of our communities. The pandemic underpinned that with intensity. Never has it been more clear that, for the health and strength of our communities, Montanans must be able to afford their homes and make wise financial decisions. You allow us to offer hope and help so Montanans can create brighter futures for themselves, their families and their communities. Thank you!

The pandemic accelerated social and economic trends that were already underway. One result is the dramatic shift in our real estate markets across Montana. Rentals and homes for sale are becoming more competitive and costly. Homes they can afford are getting further out of reach for everyday working Montanans.

Fortunately, with your help our programs expanded in the past year, becoming virtual during the pandemic. Financial Skill Building class participants are not only in Missoula, but in 33 communities across the state! Nearly 50 people per month take our online Homebuyer Education class. Graduates of our homebuyer program have purchased their first homes in the past year. They’ve worked through many challenges, sticking with their plans over longer periods of time, and have been successful.

Your support empowered over 1,200 people last year through our virtual HomeOwnership Center programs to build their financial skills, advocate for their rental situations and determine their ability to purchase homes of their own. Graduates of our Financial Skill Building program told us that they were better equipped to handle the financial challenges COVID brought because of the skills they learned. In Missoula County, we are deepening relationships with local landlords, supporting them so they will offer homes to people living with barriers to accessing and keeping a home.

Your support also made it possible for us to begin leasing new apartment homes in three Montana cities: 136 homes for seniors like Becky (pictured) in Billings, 37 homes for local workers and families in Livingston and 38 new homes for local workers and families in Whitefish. We are looking forward to more opportunities, including the creation of 202 new rental apartments through the Trinity project in Missoula.

Homeword empowered Montanans for decades before the pandemic AND it spurred us to be even more of a trusted resource for our neighbors. And, with your help, we’ll be here after. Collaboration with others has always been key to our success. Building trusted relationships is our path forward to meet the challenges of tomorrow, including harnessing the experience of the past 26 years into Public Policy and leadership at state and local levels. Learn more at homeword.org/advocacy.

In addition to the benefits our residents and program participants receive, there are other significant economic benefits to this work at every level. For instance, Homeword has catalyzed $168 Million dollars through construction of homes – $125 Million in Montana’s economy alone with a ripple effect of $375 Million for our state – and supported over 2,400 jobs for our neighbors.

Building more homes requires resources. The stability of offering our low cost or free programming means we provide an immediate solution for people to gain confidence and use tools that empower them to take control of their financial futures. Homebuyer counseling and financial education are two known solutions for creating greater equity in America.

We are currently working to fill a $60K gap in our HomeOwnership Programs so we can use those dollars to build more homes Montanans can afford.

We are hosting our annual fundraising event virtually this year, from 12:00-12:30 pm on March 25. We hope you will join us for this dynamic program and are excited to share our story, impact and vision. You can register for the event at bit.ly/3q5dqf2 and you can make your gift anytime at bit.ly/30396l8. We are making it easy to support this work and encourage you to consider setting up a Peer to Peer (P2P) campaign if you like by clicking on “I want to fundraise for this” on the event page at bit.ly/30396l8. The event will be available for viewing for a short while afterward in case you or your friends aren’t able to participate on March 25.

20 years ago, when I started my journey with this work, the sustainable building practices drew me in, but it was the focus on building quality rental homes and creating a sense of place along with practical tools to apply for eventual homeownership that I wholeheartedly embraced. We are all connected to Homeword’s mission because the foundation of a safe, healthy home and financial security means we can each reach our potential. The vision of who Homeword wanted to be in 2001 has blossomed into what we have been able to accomplish together today.

Thanks to people like you, Homeword empowers thousands of Montanans through safe, healthy homes they can afford and programs that give them a path forward. You strengthen families. You give hope to local workers. You increase seniors’ confidence. You provide a bright light for our Veterans. And you create safe healthy homes for people to live, grow and thrive in.

Thank you for being part of the solution and strengthening Montana communities!