News

LIBBY MOBILE-HOME PARK PURCHASED BY RESIDENTS

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October 26, 2018 at 5:00 am – The Daily Inter Lake

The homeowners who live in Hartmanns Trailer Court in Libby have bought the community from the previous owners. The community now known as Libby Creek Community is a new resident-owned community that has formed a nonprofit cooperative corporation managed by its members.

In most manufactured-home parks, homeowners own their homes and pay a “lot rent” or “lot fee” to the park owner for the use of the land. In resident-owned communities, the lot rent goes to the cooperative and is used for the good of the community.

Housing that is affordable to working and low-income families is disappearing across Montana. 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.

Danielle Maiden, the cooperative housing specialist for NeighborWorks Montana, was the lead staff person on this project. She grew up in Libby, graduated from Libby High School in 2004 and has a strong connection to the community.

“Libby is reinventing itself,” Maiden said. “There is a revitalization taking place and a big effort from the residents to bring new economic opportunities to the area. The resident-owned communities program naturally promotes pride in ownership and provides the resources to make capital improvements in the Libby Creek community upon purchase.”

The purchase was financed by Glacier Bank and NeighborWorks Montana. There are 12 homes in the community. The co-op members elect a board of directors to conduct the day-to-day business.

Libby Creek is the 10th resident-owned community in Montana. The resident-owned communities program helps to provide safe, secure and affordable housing in perpetuity, and it eliminates the fear of rent increases or being evicted without cause, according to NeighborWorks Montana.

ROC Summit In Montana Full Of Collaboration And Inspiration

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Posted by Melissa Proulx on Wednesday, October 10 th, 2018
KALISPELL, Mont. – Inspired and grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with their regional peers, residents and leaders of Montana ROCs are ready to help their communities continue to thrive after the ROC Summit this past weekend.

Representatives from the 10 ROCs and 330 households came out to Kalispell for a two-day regional training hosted by NeighborWorks® Montana, the ROC USA® Network affiliate in the state.

The ROC leaders learned about their finances, working with their property manager as well as local law enforcement, and how to foster community engagement. Attendees collaborated with one another on various community engagement topics during an extensive World Cafe.

Through these sorts of trainings as well as just working hands-on with NeighborWorks Montana are a vital resource for many, some attendees said.

“It is amazing what (Buena Vista) has become,” said Terry Huetter, President of the Missoula, Mont., ROC. “It has gone in a positive direction, and just changed leaps and bounds.”

Leaders also gave a report on their communities’ biggest successes, ranging from completing infrastructure projects to rebuilding playgrounds to discovering new ways of engaging community members.

“We started a coffee klatch group where residents can join in without having to come to a meeting,” said Lori Meyer, president of Green Acres Cooperative in Kalispell.

The question of how to best get neighbors engaged was one to which ROC leaders frequently returned, particularly for some of the newer leaders who were able to use the experience of their more tenured peers.

Terry Davis and her neighbors in Country Court purchased their neighborhood in July and are gearing up to tackle some of their infrastructure needs.

“We’re still getting our feet under us as to how this all works,” she said.

Spencer Willey, Treasurer for Libby Creek Community, said he was looking forward to hearing about the experiences of the more tenured ROC leaders to bring back to his Board. His Libby, Mont., neighborhood became resident-owned on Oct. 1, the newest for the state.

“It’s fun to bring something like this to Libby for sure,” he said.

Board Presidents were given a certificate and gift card to Ace Hardware for $50 in recognition of their service to their neighborhoods.

The efforts of the Presidents, the Boards and the community residents are what help the Montana ROCs thrive.

“It really is thanks to all your work that our communities are what they are today,” said Kaia Peterson, Assistant Director at NeighborWorks Montana.

Community leaders boarded a trolley to tour all three Kalispell ROCs to learn a little bit more about their stories.

Each group was also awarded a $500 grant from NeighborWorks Montana to increase community engagement. Members brainstormed ideas of how to use the money – hosting volunteer barbeques, funding a neighborhood party or creating gift baskets for Members – that will be brought back to their Boards of Directors for approval.

FICO Plans Big Shift in Credit-Score Calculations, Potentially Boosting Millions of Borrowers

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Consumers with a low FICO could get a higher UltraFICO, a new score that factors in bank-account activity as well as loan payments
AnnaMaria Andriotis

Updated Oct. 21, 2018 9:31 p.m. ET, Wall St. Journal

Fair Isaac Corp. FICO -1.54% , creator of the widely used FICO credit score, plans to roll out a new scoring system in early 2019 that factors in how consumers manage the cash in their checking, savings and money-market accounts. It is among the biggest shifts for credit reporting and the FICO scoring system, the bedrock of most consumer-lending decisions in the U.S. since the 1990s.

The new score, in the works for years, is FICO’s latest answer to lenders who after years of mostly cautious lending are seeking ways to boost loan approvals.

This is occurring at the same time the consumer-credit market appears relatively healthy. Unemployment is low and consumer loan balances—including for credit cards, auto loans and personal loans—are at record highs, and lenders are looking for ways to keep expanding loan volume.

Borrowers currently have little control over what is in their credit reports, save for the ability to contest information they believe is inaccurate. Lenders, collections firms and other parties feed payment-history data to the major credit-reporting firms, Experian PLC, Equifax Inc. and TransUnion, and that information determines consumers’ FICO scores.

Lenders, in turn, use FICO scores to help make most of their lending decisions.

The UltraFICO score will function as an appeal of sorts, likely boosting many applicants with less-than-ideal records. If an applicant’s traditional FICO score falls short, a lender can offer to have the score recalculated to reflect banking activity. Would-be borrowers with at least several hundred dollars in their accounts, who have had the accounts for a while and who transact frequently and don’t overdraw are likely to see their scores rise, FICO said.

Applicants will be able to choose which accounts they want considered when the score is recalculated.

FICO said it is in discussions with a handful of lenders, including banks and financial-technology firms, that have expressed interest in using the new score in a pilot. One of those is Pentagon Federal Credit Union, the third-largest U.S. credit union by assets.

A decade after the subprime-mortgage binge nearly brought down the U.S. financial system, consumer lenders remain wary of borrowers with low credit scores.

Banks have spent much of the past 10 years chasing ultra-creditworthy borrowers. Yet that slice of the market, which has grown as the economy has improved, is largely tapped out.

As a result, lenders have been asking credit-reporting firms and FICO to figure out a way to help them boost lending without taking on significantly more risk. And regulators have expressed interest in exploring ways to increase access to affordable lending for consumers who have no or low credit scores.

Of U.S. consumers with FICO credit scores, a record 58.2% have a score of 700 or higher on a scale that tops out at 850. The average FICO score is at a record 704. Lenders may have different cutoffs, but Experian considers scores under 670 subprime.

FICO said about seven million applicants who have low credit scores as a result of thin borrowing histories would likely see their scores improve under the new system. Separately, some 26 million subprime borrowers will end up with higher credit scores, FICO said, with nearly four million seeing an increase of at least 20 points.

Consumers with an average balance of at least $400 who haven’t overdrawn in the prior three months would likely get a boost, FICO said.

David Shellenberger, FICO’s senior director of scoring and predictive analytics, said the new score is designed to prevent risky borrowers from appearing more creditworthy than they are, by reflecting positive financial behavior that was previously invisible.

FICO is “very focused” on its “ability to separate future good borrowers from bad borrowers,” Mr. Shellenberger said.

Some scores could decrease when the new information is taken into account, he said.

Experian will compile consumers’ banking information with help from financial-technology firm Finicity and will distribute the new score to lenders. The credit-reporting firm also will send lenders a report that includes a summary of the consumer’s bank accounts.

Experian will keep the potentially valuable cache of sought-after account information. The company said it would use the data to address consumer disputes about accuracy. FICO won’t have access to personalized account information.

UltraFICO is the latest in a recent series of changes by credit-reporting and -scoring firms that are helping boost consumers’ credit scores.

Equifax, Experian and TransUnion last year began deleting most tax-lien and civil-judgment information from credit reports. They also have been removing certain accounts in collections, following settlements with state attorneys general dating back to 2015 over how they manage errors and certain negative information on credit reports.

Eight million consumers who had collections accounts completely removed from their credit reports in the 12 months ended in June experienced a credit-score increase of 14 points on average, according to a recent Federal Reserve Bank of New York report.

FICO updated its scores in 2014 to put less weight on medical bills that are in collections and to exclude accounts that consumers paid or settled with a collection agency.

Write to AnnaMaria Andriotis at [email protected]

New Sign For Morning Star Co-Op Big Hit In Community

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Posted by Melissa Proulx on Thursday, October 11 th, 2018

KALISPELL, Mont. — A new sign marks more than just the entrance of the Morning Star Community.

“It completes the community,” said Laurie Westendorf, President of the democratically elected Board of Directors for the resident-owned community.

Before the sign was installed, those looking to get to the co-op are taken to the community next door if they enter the address into the GPS. Since there isn’t any signage at the moment to let them know they are in the wrong place, it could be confusing.

“We really needed it so people could find us,” she said.

With one sign already installed, a second one was set to be installed earlier this week. New speed limit and row number signs will also be put up. Residents were able to weigh in on the design.

These changes help to create a sense of belonging for Morning Star residents by dressing up the neighborhood. It shows pride of ownership and many have given positive feedback on the new sign, Westendorf said.

The $2,000 project was funded through a grant from NeighborWorks® Montana, the ROC USA affiliate for the state. Westendorf said she learned about the possibility of getting the grant while attending the Community Leadership Institute in Los Angeles, Calif. in 2017.

“It was the very first grant that we’ve received,” she said.

This was not the only one they’ve recently received though.

Morning Star was also awarded $1,500 from the Better Together Community Grant Program earlier this summer. This money was used to fix the asphalt around their mailboxes so water will drain away from the area. This will be safer for residents, particularly in the cold months when ice can build up and make it slick in that area.

The signs were created by Signs Now, a local company in Kalispell. Westendorf said the team there did an amazing job and was incredibly helpful throughout the process.

Lender Webinar: NWMT Loan Products: 20+ Community Second

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We invite Montana lenders to join us for an in-depth webinar about our 20+ Community Second, which is a product available to lending institutions who invest in our loan pool.

It will be both a great refresher for those who have invested, as well as great information for those who may be interested in the product.

To register: http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=sc6r4xxab&oeidk=a07efq33gpq65ddaa09

Housing

Montana Tribe Surpasses National Homeownership Rate

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The work we do is both a privilege and a passion for us, and this story is an example of just one of the many reasons we love our work! Seeing lives transformed and getting to work with others around the state to accomplish these transformations is rewarding beyond belief. We give special thanks to Salish & Kootenai Housing Authority and Glacier Bank for working with us and sharing our same passion for homeownership in Montana! To read the full article, visit https://www.nativebusinessmag.com/montana-tribe-surpasses-national-homeownership-rate/

Rockcress Commons

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Rockcress Commons is another great project that NeighborWorks Montana has the privilege of being a part of through our Real Estate Development lending program! We provided pre-development funding to NeighborWorks Great Falls and GMD Development. We also provided a loan, in equal partnership with NeighborWorks Capital, for the purchase of the land which will remain until the completion of the project.

The Rockcress apartment complex will offer Great Falls much-needed quality housing that is affordable. This will be a 124-unit apartment complex located near Benefis and Great Falls College MSU. Units will be 1, 2 and 3 bedroom, with rents ranging from $554 – $954.

Stay tuned for more news about this project as it develops!

NWMT Awarded $700,000 In Financial Assistance

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We were one of three organizations in Montana to be awarded a CDFI Grant from the U.S.Treasury. NWMT was awarded $700,000 of financial assistance funds that we will use toward our lending programs. This award will make a great impact in helping us achieve our mission of creating housing opportunities across our great state, and nothing makes us happier! For more information about CDFI Grants, visit https://www.cdfifund.gov/news-events/Pages/story-detail.aspx?StoryID=9