Jackie’s Financial Success Story

JACKIE VITAS' FINANCIAL SUCCESS STORY Jackie Vitas lived paycheck to paycheck. “I’ve always had credit issues and have a history of poor financial management,” she said. “I’ve always been broke. Finances have caused numerous issues in my life and affected both romantic and familial relationships.” Single, living alone and in her 40s, Jackie moved to Missoula in December of 2020. Although she had good financial role models as a child, college marked the beginning of her money trouble as she began to accumulate student loan debt. “I thought about it as someone giving me free money and didn’t consider the ramifications of taking on that debt,” she said. Jackie also engaged in emotional spending. “For me there are lots of emotional entanglements with money,” said Jackie. “‘You don’t feel good? Go fix it with a dinner out or some retail therapy.’” Physically unable to donate blood plasma, a source of income on which she depended, Jackie had worked herself into a debt situation in which she could no longer pay her rent on time. As a result, she applied for Montana Emergency Rental Assistance, or MERA. MERA was a temporary federally funded relief program designed to support Montanans who experienced financial hardships during the COVID-19 pandemic that caused them to become at risk of housing instability. Through that program, she also learned about other resources, including Homeword’s free Financial Skill Building class. Ready to make a change and learn how to manage her money effectively, Jackie signed up for [...]

February 14, 2023|

5 Reasons to Learn and Earn with Matched Savings

5 REASONS TO LEARN AND EARN WITH MATCHED SAVINGS There can be numerous barriers to saving money. We’re not going to lie. It’s tough. But what if we told you that one small step can start you on the path to savvy money management and improving your finances? In partnership with NeighborWorks Montana, we offer a Matched Savings Program, also known as an Individual Development Account (IDA). It’s a powerful tool to help you save money and develop your personal finance skills. Here are the top five reasons you should start a matched savings account: Get $500 of free money You save up to $500, and we will match your savings for a total of up to $1,000. Need we say more? Probably not, but we will anyway because there are other great reasons to start a matched savings account! Accountability This program provides you with the structure to achieve the goal of saving $500. When you sign up, you agree to track and report your savings and debt and maybe even your credit score over a 6- or 12-month timeframe. You save $83 per month for six months or $42 per month for a year and show corresponding deposits that add up to the goal with no withdrawals or missing months to get the $500 match. Build a habit and practice of saving Setting up a savings account and contributing to it regularly is a big step toward prioritizing your long-term financial well-being. Like anything, getting better at [...]

February 8, 2023|

Amanda Bevan’s Financial Success Story

AMANDA BEVAN'S FINANCIAL SUCCESS STORY For Amanda Bevan, money was always a scary topic. Originally from West Glacier, Montana, Amanda grew up with her grandparents, who had a very limited income. As an adult, Amanda had little idea what to do other than try to save every penny. When talking one day with a family friend about how overwhelmed she was feeling financially, Amanda learned about Homeword. Her friend suggested she consider taking Homeword’s financial education class to help her understand how to manage her money better and plan for the future. “Since we recently moved in together, my boyfriend Sam and I decided to sign up for Katie Sadowski's class,” said Amanda. “Finances were very challenging for both of us as individuals, not to mention shared expenses.” In the financial skill building class, Katie immediately made them feel safe discussing financial topics and asking questions. Amanda could face her fears and challenges head-on. “I think the biggest takeaways for us were budgeting, credit scores and, quite frankly, enjoying talking about finances,” she said. “Katie taught us that talking about money didn't have to be triggering and scary; it could be fun.” Amanda began to think differently in class. All her life she’d found it difficult to talk about her money struggles, but this marked a turning point for her. “Currently, Sam and I are doing quite well financially,” said Amanda. “We talk about finances all the time. Since Homeword, our credit scores have greatly improved, our accounts are [...]

December 21, 2022|

Adaptive Reuse and Historic Preservation: What Is It and What Does it Take?

ADAPTIVE REUSE AND HISTORIC PRESERVATION: WHAT IS IT AND WHAT DOES IT TAKE? Adaptive reuse is a sustainable building practice that minimizes carbon impact by repurposing existing structures for new use and giving a second life to building materials. Historic preservation takes this a step further by repurposing historic buildings while preserving the fabric of our communities for generations to come. Homeword has completed four projects that include the adaptive reuse of historic buildings. These include Acme in Billings, Lenox Flats in Missoula, Ouellette Place in Lewistown and Bluebunch Flats in Livingston. Right now, we are working on two more: Crowley Flats in Lewistown and Baatz Block in Great Falls, both originally built in 1913. It isn’t easy work. For each historic project, there are numerous criteria to meet, steps to complete and unique challenges. First, we must list the building on the National Register of Historic Places to access equity from the sale of Historic Tax Credits. Since the equity can be a significant amount on a multi-million-dollar development project, it impacts the financial feasibility of the project. Historic Tax Credits also provide an incentive for owners to preserve the significant features when it might be less expensive to simply tear them out and replace them with new materials. There are four criteria established by the National Park Service that make a building eligible for the National Register of Historic Places. The building must: Be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns [...]

November 21, 2022|

Our Newest Development

OUR NEWEST DEVELOPMENT Homeword’s newest development is a small one. …No, think tiny. …Even smaller than that! It’s not a home at all. It’s a little free library and food pantry! Partnering with the University of Montana, we hosted a group of 36 new students as part of their freshman orientation, or “Big Sky Experience.” We shared with them how our organization uses sustainable methods to create homes and strengthen communities throughout Montana. Then, supplied with paintbrushes and hammers, we put the students to work on a sustainable build of their own. In the way that Homeword repurposes existing structures for new use in developments such as Ouellette Place and Crowley Flats, the college freshman constructed the little free library and pantry using primarily salvaged materials. The “existing structure” in this case was a solid-wood cabinet we found at Home ReSource that had once belonged to a church. Together we sanded, primed, painted and added on to it to give the cabinet new life. Students covered the roof with tarpaper and shingles, again sourced from Home ReSource, and used a concrete chimney block from Waste Less Works as the structure’s base. Community members donated wood for the roof and shelves, the door pull and paint leftover from their home remodel, so we only had to buy a few new items to complete the project. The addition of solar lights to the cabinet represented another nod to Homeword’s sustainable building practices. Above the door, just under the eaves, we installed [...]

September 8, 2022|

Closing the Homeownership Gap

CLOSING THE HOMEOWNERSHIP GAP Thanks to the generosity of the Missoula Organization of Realtors (MOR), we were able to serve as co-sponsors of Missoula Pride alongside their organization this summer. Together we united under the slogan “Homes For All” and tabled at the Pride events downtown. Our homebuyer educator, Julie Pavlish, and other Homeword team members were able to reach hundreds of LGBTQ+ people among the Pride participants from around the state with information about our homebuyer education and free, statewide financial skill building classes. According to a 2021 report from the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and Freddie Mac, the homeownership rate for the LGBTQ+ community is only 49%, whereas the overall U.S. population has a homeownership rate of 70.1%. In today’s difficult and competitive conditions, many people are waiting longer to realize their goals of purchasing homes or foregoing homebuying altogether. Reflected in the more than 20% disparity in homeownership, the LGBTQ+ community has even more challenges when it comes to renting or purchasing a home. Research conducted by Freddie Mac and the Alliance in 2022 shows a significant number of those surveyed reporting evidence of discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity against potential homebuyers during the renting or homebuying process. Among their barriers to buying a house is being fearful of discrimination. The top barriers surveyed LGBTQ+ renters reported to buying a home included feeling that home prices were beyond their means, saving for a down payment, wanting more education about the buying [...]

August 11, 2022|
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