509 1st Avenue South • Great Falls, Montana 59401 • Phone: 406-761-5861 • Toll Free: 1-866-587-2244 • Fax: 406-761-5852
MEDA Housing Working Group
Welcome to the Montana Workforce Housing webpage. The purpose of this website is to gather together in one place all of the housing development resources available in the state of Montana . The MEDA(Montana Economic Developmenta Association) housing working group (HWG) is dedicated to providing information to individuals or groups who want to address a housing issue in a particular locale. In the links below, you'll find information about the many programs that are available for economic development professionals, cities, towns, counties and non-profit organizations who are trying to address a housing problem in their area.
LAND TRUSTS: The North Missoula Community Development Corporation (CDC) www.nmcdc.org and HRDC in Bozeman (www.thehrdc.org) have created land trusts, where the land is owned by a non-profit corporation and leased to the homeowner. Homeowners benefit because the land is not part of the purchase price. Land trusts tend to keep the home affordable forever because land price escalation does not enter into future sales prices. The land is usually gifted to a non-profit or purchased by the agency with grant funds, so it can be leased at a nominal annual rate. Depending on grant fund restrictions, home sales may be limited to low and moderate income families. http://www.cltnetwork.org/
DEED RESTRICTIONS: The price of homes constructed either by a private market or a non-profit developer are subsidized with grant funds. The homes are sold to low and moderate income families with deed restrictions that, for example, limit the unearned equity gained by the homeowner to the annual Consumer Price Index (CPI) and require that the home be purchased by another low or moderate income family when it is sold. Cabrillo CDC in Ventura County, California uses this process to retain affordability through subsequent sales. www.cabrilloedc.org
VOLUNTEER LABOR OR STUDENT LABOR: Homes built using volunteer or student labor reduce the cost of the home. NeighborWorks Great Falls builds two homes each year using Advanced Building Trades classes at the high school. Habitat for Humanity is internationally known for this model. The Montana Board of Housing supplies financing for modular homes built with student labor. Homes are almost always restricted to low and moderate income families. www.nwgreatfalls.org; www.housing.mt.gov
OWNER-BUILT HOUSING: The largest example of this program is USDA's mutual self-help program. There are 8 sites in Montana operating under MSH funding. Owners put 1,200 hours into their own homes, usually in groups of 8 to 10 families. All families work on all the homes and no one moves in until all the homes are completed. Owner equity at the time of the move averages about $25,000, essentially the value of their labor and the economies of scale in building 8-10 homes at once. Low and moderate income families are eligible for direct Rural Development loans, with interest rates as low as 1%. Kitsap County Housing near Bremerton has a private financing feature where higher income families secure conventional construction financing to build their homes. www.usda.gov; www.rcac.org
MANUFACTURED HOUSING (MH)/MODULAR HOUSING: MH housing is built in a factory and delivered to the site on its own chassis; while modular housing, also built in a factory, is delivered via a flatbed truck. Both are placed on permanent foundations and financed with real estate mortgages. Both can be visually improved by increasing the roof pitch, lengthening the eaves, using quality siding materials, and the addition of porches (ordered with unit) and garages (built on site). Longevity can be improved by specifying sheetrock walls, stronger flooring materials and energy efficiency features. The industry estimates that factory building saves approximately 10 -15% over site building. Developers can purchase units directly from some manufacturers. www.mtmhrv.org/; www.cfed.org.
AFFORDABLE FINANCING: Rural Development provides financing as low as 1%, depending on income. www.usda.gov. The State of Montana HOME and CDBG programs (through non-profit agencies and city/county governments) provide deferred mortgages for down payment and closing costs. The Montana Board of Housing provides funding to lenders at below-market interest rates. www.housing.mt.gov. NeighborWorks Montana provides down payment loans throughout the state.
INCLUSIONARY ZONING/ CITY INCENTIVES: Some communities have provided developers with density bonuses (allowing smaller lots) and/or mandated a proportion of new developments be allocated for affordable housing as a requirement for approval of a new subdivision. Some cities have reduced costs for utilities and impact fees in exchange for affordable prices. The city of Bozeman recently passed an inclusionary zoning ordinance, while the City of Whitefish uses a voluntary program. www.bozeman.net; www.whitefishhousingauthority.org.
CONDOMINIUMS/TOWNHOMES: By spreading the cost of land and land development among more units through density, the overall costs per unit is decreased. Although the “American Dream” may be a single family detached with a yard, today's reality is affordability. By building in features that give the home a feel of privacy and including an outdoor space, homeownership in condos and town homes is a great step onto the homeownership ladder.
COOPERATIVE HOUSING: Cooperative housing is owned by a group of owners instead of individually. It differs from condominiums in that the owners form a cooperative that owns the building. The Montana Cooperative Development Center can provide technical assistance to develop cooperative housing. www.mcdc.org
GREEN BUILDING: Careful management of construction materials to limit waste and incorporating energy efficiency features can reduce construction costs and reduce future operating costs, making the home more affordable in the long run. www.homeword.org. The MSU Extension Service provides assistance across that state on best building practices for materials, energy efficiency, and rehab, applied to stick and manufactured housing. www.msuextensionhousing.org
TRAINING: The NeighborWorks Training Institute provides training on housing development and lending programs. www.nw.org/training.
Housing Resource Directory is published by the Montana Department of Commerce, has more detailed information about housing programs in Montana.
Rental Housing Locator a the Montana Board Of Housing website. www.mthousingsearch.com
If you know of information that should be added to this website, please send us an e-mail
509 1st Avenue South • Great Falls, Montana 59401• Phone: 406-761-5861 • Toll Free: 1-866-587-2244 • Fax: 406-761-5852