Partnership Brings Permanent Supportive Homes to Great Falls

PARTNERSHIP BRINGS PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOMES TO GREAT FALLS Across Montana, the number of people forced into houselessness is rising. As the need for homes our neighbors can afford continues to grow, working together is essential to effect positive change. We’re partnering with longtime collaborator NeighborWorks Great Falls (NWGF) to transform the vacant Baatz Building in downtown Great Falls into homes for people experiencing houselessness. NWGF specializes in homeownership services, including self-help single-family home construction. The organization has assisted more than 4,000 families to become homeowners in Great Falls since 1980. They recently began developing multi-family apartments with one new construction project, Rockcress Commons. NWGF has also acquired quality rental homes the people of Great Falls can afford to rent. To make a bigger impact on Great Falls and Cascade County, NWGF also collaborates with the local Continuum of Care for Homelessness group. Together these organizations bring services to people in their community experiencing housing instability. They determined in 2021 the ideal next step would be creating permanent supportive homes. Permanent supportive homes have wrap-around services for people experiencing short-term to chronic homelessness. They are designed to connect people to homes, positive social networks and services to improve all aspects of their lives. Experts believe permanent supportive housing is key to the long-term reduction of houselessness throughout the country. Since the development of permanent supportive homes is a brand-new venture for NWGF, they reached out to us for our experience in this area. We are currently completing our first permanent [...]

May 10, 2023|

Alec’s Financial Success Story

ALEC'S HOMEBUYER SUCCESS STORY Homeownership seemed impossible to Alec Underwood. Although he had decent credit, Alec assumed there would be no way to afford a mortgage based on his income and small amount of savings. He also worried about the rising cost to buy a home. Alec knew he wanted to someday purchase a home in Montana and settle down where he could enjoy fly-fishing, hunting, hiking and skiing. But as a person in his twenties it seemed out of reach. “Before I discovered Homeword,” said Alec, “I rented in Missoula for several years. Homeownership was barely on my radar.” As he prioritized his career and gradually improved his financial situation, Alec began to consider what becoming a homeowner would look like. Apart from needing decent credit and a reliable income, Alec didn’t know the first thing about buying a house. After hearing about Homeword and some of the benefits of taking a homebuyer’s education class, such as qualifying for specialized first-time homebuyers financing options, he decided to sign up for the homebuyer class to learn more. “Homeword’s class was very informative,” he said. “The most helpful aspect was budgeting, not only for a mortgage but also for all of the unforeseen costs associated with homeownership. In one-on-one counseling sessions I had the opportunity to assess my budget and determine if homeownership was even a possibility for me.” With the help of our homebuyer educator, Alec found his ability to purchase a home was something within his means that [...]

April 27, 2023|

Jackie’s Financial Success Story

JACKIE'S 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 Homeword’s [...]

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 of [...]

November 21, 2022|
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