Blue Heron Place Permanent Supportive Housing Serves as Statewide Model

BLUE HERON PLACE PERMANENT SUPPORTIVE HOUSING SERVES AS STATEWIDE MODEL In September, Homeword and partner Missoula Housing Authority (MHA) opened Blue Heron Place to Missoula’s long-term unhoused neighbors. These apartments are Permanent Supportive Housing (PSH), a proven solution for ending chronic homelessness that combines intensive case management and supportive services. The first of its kind in Missoula to offer on-site wrap-around services, Blue Heron Place is making ripples statewide as organizations across Montana take notice. When Homeword began exploring the possibility of creating PSH with on-site services, their staff toured two different examples of PSH in Colorado. They visited Redtail Ponds in Fort Collins and Arroyo Village in Denver and talked with developers, staff and service providers. Homeword incorporated best practices and lessons learned into its work creating Blue Heron Place. Now Homeword is paying it forward by sharing best practices and lessons learned from Blue Heron Place. It serves as the model in Homeword’s development of Baatz Block Apartments with NeighborWorks Great Falls and for other organizations in Montana interested in developing PSH. Recently, Kellie McBride of the Lewis and Clark County Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) in Helena reached out to Homeword to learn more about Blue Heron Place and the adjacent Navigation Center. “We want to see what other communities have done,” said McBride. McBride served as the executive director of the YWCA in Helena for seven years, overseeing a major renovation to the organization’s building. In 2017, McBride took on a new position as director [...]

December 21, 2023|

Urban Farm Grows Thousands of Pounds of Food at Homeword Property

URBAN FARM GROWS THOUSANDS OF POUNDS OF PRODUCE AT HOMEWORD PROPERTY Homeword’s Orchard Gardens property is situated on 4.6 acres near the urban-rural fringe of the west side of Missoula, an area still deeply rooted in agricultural traditions. Residents began moving into the 35 rental homes at Orchard Gardens in 2005. At the same time, Homeword partnered with fellow local nonprofit Garden City Harvest. Leasing land on the property to Garden City Harvest for a Neighborhood Farm and Community Garden, the two organizations have collaborated to help revive the tradition of producing food for the community through agriculture. Half of Orchard Gardens is dedicated to urban farming and community gardens. The Orchard Gardens Neighborhood Farm is 1.53 acres. It has served over 1,800 people, including 26 community-supported agriculture (CSA) members, and has grown well over 12,500 pounds of food. Garden City Harvest provides local, sustainably grown produce for the community, focusing on Missoulians whose incomes are below living wages. Their Neighborhood Farm at Orchard Gardens supplies the Missoula Food Bank with produce every year in addition to filling weekly CSA boxes. The farm features an orchard with native bee boxes, a seed saving garden, medicinal herb and flower gardens, educational tours for kids including produce samples and a farm stand for residents at which electronic benefit transfer (EBT) cards are accepted. The farm is also home to the greenhouse that grows starts for many of Garden City Harvest’s farms. There are also 12 garden plots available for rent to [...]

November 21, 2023|

5 Quick Tips for Holiday Financial Wellness

5 QUICK TIPS FOR HOLIDAY FINANCIAL WELLNESS The stress of the holiday season can be compounded with many families feeling financially strapped during this time of year as well. According to a recent Forbes survey on American holiday spending, over a third of respondents (36%) anticipate spending more this holiday season than last year. Food and festive meals will be one of Americans’ biggest expenses, according to 51% of respondents. “Buy Now, Pay Later” payment methods are a popular alternative to traditional credit card financing, with 40% of respondents electing to use this method for expenses related to Thanksgiving and 33% expecting to use it for holiday gift shopping. Here are five quick tips from our HomeOwnership Center educators to shoring up your financial foundation to keep it going strong all year long. Review your health insurance and other benefits to make sure you don't need to make changes for the coming year. This will help make sure you can cover any major unexpected illnesses or accidents, protecting your other savings. Review your budget and use it to help set healthy spending boundaries. Regular review will help keep your goals top of mind and make sure you know where your money is going. Protect your emergency funds. Research the best option for holding onto these funds long-term and letting them grow with interest. Keeping these liquid but growing will help in the event you need to use them but also ensure you are not losing ground if you don't [...]

November 16, 2023|

Watch Out for Debt Relief Scams

WATCH OUT FOR DEBT RELIEF SCAMS Watch Out for Debt Relief Scams Debt relief refers to actions taken to reduce or refinance debt to make it easier and quicker for you to repay it.  One form of debt relief is to withhold creditor payments while a debt relief company negotiates on your behalf to reduce your overall payments. In this situation, what you owe overall may be reduced, but late or missed payments could damage your credit and lower your score. Debt relief may be the right answer for you, but not all debt relief organizations have good intentions. It’s smart to be aware of the scams out there and know how to spot them. What are debt relief scams? Debt relief scams target consumers who have significant debt by falsely promising that they will help you negotiate with creditors to lower your debt owed.  These operations often charge large, up-front fees, and then fail to help you settle or lower your debts – if they provide any service at all. Debt relief scams may even masquerade as special "government" programs, but they are only after one thing…to profit from your vulnerability. What are some common debt relief scam red flags? Robocalls. Robocalls (recorded phone messages) are always “watch out” situations.  This is especially true when it comes to unsolicited debt relief services. Upfront payments. Legitimate debt settlement companies should not ask for up-front payments. Tells you to stop communicating with your creditors. When you cut off communication with a [...]

October 13, 2023|

Chloe’s Homebuyer Success Story

CHLOE'S HOMEBUYER SUCCESS STORY Chloe Wiliams is a Missoula middle school teacher and single mother determined to buy a home. About a year after leaving her now ex-husband, Chloe came to Homeword to take the Get Ready for HomeOwnership class. “I had gotten a divorce,” said Chloe, “so I was a new single parent living in a small apartment with my son. I wanted to try to buy a house for us so he could have a yard.” Chloe met with Homeword Homebuyer Educator Julie Pavlish for individualized one-on-one counseling following class. At their first meeting, they went over Chloe’s finances and determined that she needed to work on her debt ratios before she would be able to buy a house. “The counseling with Julie was great,” she said. “We met once or twice a year for the last four years. She was so patient! I was getting really concerned that I wouldn’t be able to buy a home, but she got me through the fear I had about money and the debt—because I had a lot of student debt.” Julie coached Chloe through signing up with FedLoan Servicing, an organization approved by the U.S. Department of Education to service college student loans that supports borrowers with easy ways to manage their repayments. They also worked together to put together Chloe’s Public Service Loan Forgiveness (PSLF) documentation. Finally, after years of hard work, Chloe’s loans were forgiven. “I couldn’t believe it!” Chloe said. “I called Julie up and was [...]

September 13, 2023|

Budgeting Mindfulness to Reduce Stress

BUDGETING MINDFULNESS TO REDUCE STRESS In addition to consolidating debt, as highlighted in our previous post, various budgeting tools and practices can help reduce your stress while helping you gain ground on achieving your financial goals. Understanding Your Ins and Outs The first and most important step in creating a budget is knowing where you want to go with your money. Then you need to track all your income and expenses. Your budget destination tells you why you are working so hard daily to cut expenses and capture savings. Putting a picture of your goal on your refrigerator or in plain view keeps that destination close in mind. Oftentimes we “budget” monthly bills, but do not budget our everyday expenditures.  For example, you might get paid twice a month and must pay seven different bills. When you diligently track what comes both in and out of your account, however, you can see where your money really goes and realign your spending with your priorities. Taking Control and Owning Your Choices Taking control of your spending is important, but focusing on what we call “spending balance” is also key to your financial well-being. Money can be emotional! If you don’t have enough money, it can cause stress. When you’re sitting flush, you’ll have more of a sense of freedom. Spending discipline is necessary, which may mean sacrifice. It doesn’t mean always going without, however. Our best advice? Take control of how you spend your extras. Track the “outs” and determine [...]

August 31, 2023|
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