NeighborWorks Montana Deploying New Funds For Affordable Housing

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NeighborWorks Montana received $650,000 from the Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) Fund to create a new loan product to complement the State Coal Trust Funds approved for housing during the 2019 legislative session. House Bill 16 made available $15 million of coal tax trust fund dollars to develop affordable rental homes in Montana, making this the first state funding dedicated specifically to affordable housing. The program provides developers with low-interest rates on long-term loans for affordable housing acquisition and development. The new NeighborWorks Montana funds will be paired with the Coal Trust Funds for projects that need additional financing.

Since 2008 NeighborWorks Montana has been lending to housing developers in Montana, providing loans to fill gaps between other financing sources and the total costs of any given project. Traditionally NeighborWorks Montana loans have been available to fill short term needs. The new loan product is unique in that it allows for much longer terms, up to 30 years, to match the first mortgage. Interest rates will also be much lower for these loans than what typically is offered by NeighborWorks Montana. Lower rates and longer terms create more affordability for residents as projects have lower overall debt costs and cash needs, and therefore can charge lower rents.

“The legislature made significant strides in 2019 by recognizing the importance of and need for more homes Montanans can afford. The Coal Trust funds are supporting the health and vitality of our communities by creating homes for working families, seniors, and others for whom safe and stable homes would otherwise be out of reach.” said Kaia Peterson, NeighborWorks Montana’s Executive Director. “We at NeighborWorks Montana are thrilled to be able to build on the State’s commitment with our new loan program, enhancing the viability and contributing to the affordability of these projects.”

The Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program is targeted towards projects in rural communities, which often go unfunded and are difficult to build and maintain. NeighborWorks Montana is looking forward to working with developers who have successfully secured funding from the Multifamily Coal Trust Homes Program to grow the availability of safe, secure homes that Montanans can afford. There are currently 13 ROCs in the state with 527 home sites.

For inquiries about applying for funds for your project, please contact Larry Phillips at [email protected] or 406-604-4551.

View Vista Community Becomes Resident Owned

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The homeowners who live in View Vista Community in Livingston, Montana, have bought the community from the previous owner, preserving 49 homes and 33 apartment units that are affordable to low-income residents. View Vista Community is now a resident owned community (ROC) – the residents now own and manage their own community.

NeighborWorks Montana guided residents through the purchase process and continues to support them as they build the skills and leadership they need to manage their community. In most manufactured-home parks, homeowners own their homes and pay lot rent to the park owner for the use of the land. In resident owned communities the lot rent goes to the resident cooperative and is managed to meet community needs and maintain affordability.

Safe and stable homes are increasingly out of reach for working and low-income families in Montana. ROCs preserve an important source of unsubsidized affordable housing for working families, seniors and people with low incomes. Owning a home in a ROC is typically half as expensive as renting an apartment.

“The residential units at View Vista Community are crucial to the workforce housing stock in Park County, providing safe housing that is affordable near the heart of Livingston,” said Danielle Maiden, ROC Program Manager for NeighborWorks Montana. “This community provides both homeownership and rental opportunities to working families.”

George Nikolakakos owned View Vista Community for six years. He felt the community was key to the city of Livingston with over 200 people living in the community between View Vista Community Apartments and the homes in the community. When Nikolakakos started thinking about selling, he immediately reached out to NeighborWorks Montana.

“Resident ownership is good for the community, it’s good for the economy, it’s good for the residents, it’s good for the seller. It’s just a way to feel good about closing the transaction out in a way that is ethical, and I’d like to think it’s a little bit about leaving a legacy for the residents,” Nikolakakos said. “I can’t wait to go back to Livingston in 10 years and watch that place develop and see what they do with it.”

The purchase was financed by Opportunity Bank and NeighborWorks Montana. View Vista Community is the 13th resident owned community in the state of Montana and the first in Park County. There are over 250 ROCs nationwide. NeighborWorks Montana provides the ROC program in Montana as part of the ROC USA® Network. The ROC USA® Network is made up of nine non-profit affiliates across the country. The ROC program helps to provide safe, secure and affordable housing in perpetuity, and it eliminates the risks for residents of rent increases or being evicted without cause.


NeighborWorks Montana’s Mission: Together we strengthen our communities by providing education and financing that gives every Montanan the opportunity to live in a home where they can thrive.

About NeighborWorks Montana: NeighborWorks Montana is a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that works with a network of statewide partners to deliver HUD-approved homebuyer education and counseling. NWMT provides home loans for individual homebuyers and financing for affordable housing developers. And, NWMT helps homeowners purchase and successfully manage mobile home parks (ROCs). There are currently 13 ROCs in the state with 527 home sites. LEARN MORE

About ROC USA: ROC USA® is a non-profit social venture scaling resident ownership of manufactured home communities since 2008. Together with ROC USA® network, a group of nine regional non-profit affiliates, and ROC USA® Capital, a CDFI lending subsidiary, we work with 250 resident owned communities in 16 states. LEARN MORE

Welcome New Executive Director, Kaia Peterson

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The Board of Directors for NeighborWorks Montana (NWMT) is pleased to announce the appointment of Kaia Peterson as the organization’s Executive Director following the retirement of long-time Executive Director, Maureen Rude. Kaia officially took the reigns at the start of the New Year.

“We’re exceptionally pleased that Kaia has taken on this leadership role,” said Burt Hurwitz, Board President. “Her work as Assistant Director of NWMT for the last 7 years and her knowledge and involvement with affordable housing issues, both in Montana and nationally, make her a fantastic executive director for our statewide, partner-focused organization.”

Peterson is passionate about the power of Community Development Financial Institutions creating opportunities for people and communities who wouldn’t otherwise have access to safe, quality homes they can afford. She brings many years of experience in the housing industry, a keen business sense and unparalleled passion for Montanans.

“I am honored to have the opportunity to lead NWMT. The organization is poised to really build on the momentum created by my predecessor, Maureen Rude. I look forward to making a difference in the lives of even more Montanans looking to find homes they can afford,” said Peterson.

Kaia has a BA from Bates College and an MBA from the University of Washington and is a member of the Missoula Housing Authority board and Providence St. Patrick’s Hospital Western Montana Service Area Community Ministry board. She lives in Missoula, Montana.

With the start of the New Year and her first month as Executive Director, Kaia reflects, “We are off to a great start in 2020 and excited for the year ahead with lending, our partner network, ROC work and so much more.”

Stay tuned as we will continue to follow Kaia’s first year!

New Team Members

Welcome to Our New Team Members!

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This month we have welcomed two new additions to our NWMT family – Kristen Bernard and Logan Smith!

Kristen joins us an Administrative Assistant in our Great Falls office. Kristen has an extensive customer service background and we are excited to have her as part of the NWMT team!

Logan was formerly with NWMT as an AmeriCorps Vista, and she is excited to make her way back to housing. As the Housing Network Assistant, Logan will be working closely with our network of housing counselors and educators across the state.

Please join us in giving them both a warm welcome!

Maureen retirement

Executive Director Transition Underway

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Dear Friends,

What a year 2019 has been. Our organization has seen many changes and a lot of growth. It is exciting to see what Neighbor- Works Montana (NWMT) has become, especially having been part of the committee that created the Montana Homeownership Network (still our legal name) back in the late 1990’s. As many of you may know already, this summer I decided that I needed to step down as Executive Director and retire due to my personal and family situation. This was a wrenching decision for me as I love NeighborWorks Montana and all that it does, the people it serves, the organizations that are part of the network, and especially the employees. However, it is time for new ideas and a fresh outlook. When I came to NWMT in 2008, I was the first full-time staff person and we had about $2 million in assets. At the end of October 2019 assets are at nearly $28 million and there are 17 staff members. As a Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) NWMT can get grants from the Treasury which help leverage other types of investments, all of which has been put to work financing projects and homeownership in Montana. The growth is amazing, and with that growth comes a higher bar for both program outcomes and financial expertise. We have worked to develop both technical and leadership skills of the staff, and they are remarkable!

I was so pleased the Board took swift action and appointed Kaia Peterson as my successor in September. Kaia has been with the organization nearly seven years and has the brains, keen business sense, and most importantly the passion to take the organization where it needs to go in the future. Kaia and I have worked closely together during her tenure, and because of the board’s action we have been able to work on a smooth transition. I have such confidence in Kaia as a leader, for the organization and also for the state and our work nationally. It was clear when we hired her, and she has demonstrated throughout her time with us that she can and will succeed, which means the organization will succeed under her leadership.

I have loved my career in housing. It allowed me to take my finance brain and my bleeding heart and put them together into work that was meaningful. It mattered to me to contribute to the lives of the people we served, and the programs I have worked with have done that. NWMT will always hold a special place in my heart because the programs were developed to fill gaps in what is available through governmental programs and private financial institutions. As I say goodbye to the organization and its work at the end of the year, I leave knowing it is in good hands and will continue to provide valuable services and financial programs for housing in Montana.

I have chosen not to have a retirement party. If you would like to do something, please contribute to NWMT or make an investment in the loan fund! Contributions and investments are the best way to make sure NWMT can continue to grow and help house Montanans in the future.

All the best,

Maureen Rude


2020 Housing Partnership Conference. Save the Date!

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February 13, 2020 Update 

The 2020 Housing Partnership Conference is coming up June 15-17, at the Delta Hotel in Helena, Montana. Planning is well underway, and registration is scheduled to open on March 2 with early bird prices.

This year’s plenary speakers are booked, and we are excited for them to share their knowledge and ideas with all of you. We will be joined by Rural Sociologist and Senior Research Fellow for the University of Minnesota Extension, Ben Winchester; Senior Vice President of Artspace, Greg Handberg; and Communication Coach and Owner of Elkins Consulting, Sarah Elkins. On Tuesday afternoon we are thrilled to offer four tours for you to choose from, each with their own focus to help maximize your experience. We will also have a wonderful opportunity to network with others while appreciating our state’s history during the Networking Reception being held on Tuesday, June 16, at the Montana Historical Society.

You won’t want to miss this year’s conference, so stay tuned for more information!

Events like this one are only made possible with great partnerships, and we would love to have you as an event sponsor! Opportunities are filling up quickly, please contact Michelle Rogers at [email protected] or by calling 406-604-4547 for more information.


January 2020 Update

You won’t want to miss the 2020 Montana Housing Conference in Helena! This is the premier conference that brings together everyone from across that state who works with housing, healthcare, community development and revitalization, and human services.

Planning has begun and this year’s conference promises to be packed with opportunities for networking, professional growth, and in-depth discussions. Sessions will include helpful information about housing, homelessness, health and housing, strengthening our communities, and so much more.

Watch for upcoming announcements about conference registration, lodging, and event activities.


Giving Tuesday Project

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Please join us in supporting a very special project at the Missouri Meadows resident owned community (ROC), in Great Falls, Montana. Our goal is to raise $4,000 to create a building where co-op meetings can be held, and community engagement activities can be centered at.

In 2011, Missouri Meadows took the exciting steps to become a ROC, but what does that mean? By working with NeighborWorks Montana through the ROC USA network, the residents of Missouri Meadows were able to purchase the park. This ownership gives the residents housing stability and eliminates the fear of being evicted without cause. Resident-owned communities preserve an important source of unsubsidized affordable housing for working families, seniors and people with low incomes. In most places in Montana, owning a home in such a community is about half as expensive as renting an apartment.

Why is this project important? Part of what makes ROCs so successful is the comradery and sense of belonging that comes with being part of a group. This ROC has had many hurdles to overcome since becoming a co-op, and they have not had a great deal of time to focus on tools that can strengthen the bonds of their community. Having what has been named the “Community Cottage” would provide them a place of their own to hold confidential meetings, enjoy events that bring the residents together, and have secure storage for shared park resources.

This is a great group of folks who value their homes, neighbors, and community. Over the years they have improved their park by adding a community garden, outdoor community bulletin board, and they are currently working to complete a playground and replace their septic system. Now NWMT is working with them to create this space and take steps to ensure the sustainability of their community. With your partnership, we can get them started on this project, and give the residents of Missouri Meadows the tools for a strong neighborhood.

We will be keeping this fundraiser open through December 17, 2019 to give everyone plenty of time to participate.

There are two easy ways to give: OUR WEBSITE OR FACEBOOK

NeighborWorks Montana Receives Grant from HUD for Housing Counseling and Education

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The US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded NeighborWorks Montana $443,184. NeighborWorks Montana is the only direct HUD grantee in the state of Montana receiving the HUD housing counseling grant and will disburse that money to its partner network of 15 community organizations across the state delivering housing education and counseling services to Montanans.

The HUD housing counseling and education money benefits Montanans who might not otherwise be able to achieve the goal of homeownership. In 2011, at 33 years old, Lori found herself in a situation she never thought she would be in – she was a single mom of three young boys with a significant amount of debt and a lack of hope for her future. She realized she wanted more for herself than living with her kids in a basement apartment. This realization set her on an 8-year journey toward homeownership. Lori got a couple of jobs and did everything she could to make ends meet. It took several years, but she paid off $20,000 of debt, got a 2-bedroom apartment, and continued to save as much as she possibly could. Earlier this year, Lori found herself in a position where she was finally able to start thinking about purchasing a home. Her lender Lynn Stenerson at Stockman Bank recommended the first-time homebuyer class at Homeword. Lori said, “Between my lender Lynn, and Julie Pavlish at Homeword, owning a home became an attainable goal. I suppose I just needed it broken into manageable pieces, and that’s what my homebuyer education class did for me. It’s been 8 years since I started out with less than nothing, and now here I am. I own my own home. For me, buying this house is a very tangible marker of how far I’ve come, and what I am capable of. I think we all need those tangible markers sometimes and a few people to help us along the way.”

Kaia Peterson, NeighborWorks Montana’s Assistant Director said, “As the price of homes in many Montana markets continues to rise, homeownership feels increasingly out of reach. Fortunately, with quality education and counseling, and affordable financing homeownership is actually still within reach for people like Lori and so many others across the state. Housing counseling and education is vital to keeping homeownership accessible, available and attainable for all Montanans, and this funding is critical to sustain that program. We encourage anyone interested in becoming a homeowner to contact one of our housing partners and access all of the great resources available to anyone working toward achieving this goal.”

Learn more about our partner network.

Current Positions Open at NWMT

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NeighborWorks Montana (NWMT) is looking for two new teams members to join our work family! Both positions require someone who is detail-oriented, has excellent customer service skills, and is motivated to help others. When you work for NWMT, you help change lives across our state!

Click here to check out both of these great opportunities! 

Administrative Assistant
This position is located in Great Falls.

Housing Network Assistant
This position is open, preferably in Missoula, but other Montana locations will be considered.


Check Out the Dall Townhomes!

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There are great two homes currently available for purchase in Billings.

Both homes include:

  • 1,120 square feet
  • Zero entry (no steps)
  • Two bedrooms with walk-in master closet
  • Two bathrooms
  • Oversized single car garage
  • Vaulted ceilings
  • Patio with small backyard
  • Many energy efficient and durable components
  • Disability accessible and adaptable
  • Developed specifically for first-time homebuyers
  • Sweat equity will help bring down the cost of the home
  • Downpayment and mortgage buydown assistance available for eligible buyers

Take a virtual tour:

Come check these amazing towns homes out, and be sure to ask about available loan programs, as well how the sweat equity works!

Please Mary Lou Affleck with NeighborWorks Montana at 406-670-9100, or by email [email protected]. You can also contact our listing agent, Ryan Auer with Montana Real Estate Brokers, at 406-850-2011 or [email protected].