Homeword is committed to providing safe, healthy affordable housing using sustainable methods and promoting strong communities through housing counseling and education for those most in need.

Making a Difference for Montanans

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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Making a Difference for Montanans

Thank you for another great year of creating significant impacts and providing hope to Montanans! Together we brought 163 healthy, affordable homes to Missoula and Bozeman. We launched a rental education and counseling program that addressed a serious bottleneck of need. Our HomeOwnership Center has now served over 12,000 people – 930 of those during the last fiscal year. Homeword has properties in 11 communities around the state and over 850 Montanans live in beautiful, dignified housing as a result. 39% of those are children, 13% are seniors and 1 in 6 is living with a disability. The real message here is not the data; but the knowledge we are making a big difference for everyone.

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A Season of Thankfulness

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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A Season of Thankfulness

Looking back on what we've accomplished this year, our hearts are full of gratitude for your support and partnership that helps us serve Montanans.

The November issue of our newsletter a powerful as we reflect on the past year and recognize the positive outcomes you have helped create for people across Montana.

And Jessa’s story in our Annual Report is an example of how safe, healthy housing that people can afford helped create a community that empowered her to make decisions which ultimately improved her health and family and advanced her career.

Additionally, our housing and education programs provide people with a foundation that empowers them to create a path to brighter futures.

I believe that, when given the opportunity, people strive to flourish. When we flourish, we add value to the world.

Thank you for making these things possible for our friends and neighbors and for standing with us as we create sustainable communities for all!

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Missoula Property Management Information

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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Missoula Property Management Information

Friends,

You may have read or heard about this article in Wednesday's Missoulian newspaper: http://bit.ly/2bKhZXS

I want you to know that Homeword remains steadfast in its commitment to provide Montanans with safe, healthy, affordable housing.

We own several affordable housing properties in Missoula, which Tamarack manages. Under the terms of the management contract, Tamarack is responsible for ensuring resident compliance with the lease, inclusive of collecting rents, late fees and other assessed charges in a timely manner.

We take these concerns of our residents very seriously. We have been working closely with Tamarack to ensure that each resident who received a notice from the Tamarack office this week clearly understands the reason for the communication.

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Who lives in affordable housing?

  • posted by Jessica Burson
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Who lives in affordable housing?

People often ask, “Who lives at your affordable housing properties?” It’s an excellent question and one we’re happy to answer.

It’s pretty simple - community members live there. Mothers. Fathers. Sons. Daughters. Grandparents. They are part of our communities just as you are. Our housing is home to a variety of people. Many work jobs that pay low to moderate wages, such as teachers, nurses, law enforcement, retail workers and bus drivers. Others are retired, veterans or have disabilities and are living on fixed incomes such as Social Security, which is often $1,200 per month or less. About 1/3 of the residents who live at our properties in Missoula are children. For all of these people, safe and healthy housing that they can afford provides a platform for the other areas of their lives.

Residents of our properties enjoy having their friends and family over for dinner. They celebrate special occasions together in the community rooms. They walk their service animals around the property and use the bike and walking trails to get around.They grow tomatoes and strawberries, go to school, volunteer for local causes and help their kids with homework. They value community and are active and integrated into the areas where they live.

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The Cost of Living Challenge

  • posted by Jessica Burson
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The Cost of Living Challenge

With a minimum wage of $8.05 an hour and many jobs offering $10.00 an hour, it’s easy to see how Missoula’s mean wage is $9.65 an hour. What’s perhaps not as apparent is the challenge people living on $10.00 an hour face in an area with high housing and other living costs.

Did you know that HUD defines housing costs as affordable when you spend 30% or less of your income on housing? Yet 42% of Missoulians spend more than 30%. And 21% of them spend over 50% of their income on housing. How is this possible? Because at the mean wage of $9.65 (which we’ve rounded to $10.00 on the worksheet), housing costs would have to be $502.00 per month to be “affordable”. Yet the average 2 bedroom apartment in Missoula is $905.00. And even studios and 1 bedrooms average $700.00-$800.00 per month – much more than affordable for someone earning $10.00 an hour.

Let’s take the Cost of Living Challenge, shall we?

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Building Community

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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Building Community

Thanks to you, we are in the stride of our 21st year and growing as an organization. I want to take this opportunity to share with you about the impact we are having together throughout Montana as well as our strategy, financing and vision. Your support contributes to the overall strength of Homeword and, ultimately, the health of Montana families. Since 1994, we’ve developed nearly 700 units of affordable housing that are home to thousands of Montanans and served over 11,000 people through our HomeOwnership Center programs. Both of these have incredible ripple effects throughout our state. The investments we make today will not only build essential housing with sustainable methods, but will also teach people skills that will help make their way of life one that can be sustained well into the future. This is how we create sustainable communities.

 

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Affordable housing – what does that really mean?

  • posted by Jessica Burson
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Affordable housing – what does that really mean?

Do you think it’s affordable to spend more than 30% of your gross income on your housing? Neither does HUD. Which is why HUD defines affordable housing as not spending more than 30% of gross income on housing.

Mortgage lenders recommend about 30% as a cap for people looking to buy a home for the same reason. They want to be sure the people they’re loaning to can afford to pay back their mortgage and not go into foreclosure, which could be detrimental for business, homeowners and the local economy.

It only stands to reason that all people, whether renters or homeowners, should be able to afford their housing as well as other necessities.

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10 Years of Partnership with Garden City Harvest

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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10 Years of Partnership with Garden City Harvest

This September we will celebrate a ten year partnership with Garden City Harvest at our Orchard Gardens property. It’s hard to believe that a decade has gone by but I can remember Homeword visioning this project starting back in 2001.

Through our community design charrette (brainstorming session) we listened to the concerns and ideas of neighbors and the greater community. This valuable input influenced the unique design and special zoning district applied to this four (4) acre parcel where we appropriately increased the density to match districts nearby and permanently protected open space and agriculture. Orchard Gardens is built in the Orchard Homes neighborhood – a neighborhood rich in agricultural history.

We wanted to model appropriate development at the edge of urban services. We desired to demonstrate a project that provided both housing and food security because often people struggle to provide both for their families when living with limited incomes.

We found the right partner in Garden City Harvest (GCH). They are as dedicated as Homeword is in building community.

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HOME Funds in Jeopardy

  • posted by Andrea Davis
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HOME Funds in Jeopardy

Critical funding for affordable housing in Montana and across the country is on the chopping block.

The Senate Appropriations Committee passed an average 93% decrease of HOME funds in June. If this bill is passed by the full Senate, and with Montana slated to receive a 95% cut, it could be disastrous for millions across the nation as well as thousands of people in our state.

Did you know that Montana’s budget doesn’t include funds for building affordable housing and that the HOME program administered by HUD provides the bulk of gap funding for affordable housing for Montanans? As an illustration, HOME funds are projected to cover a gap of approximately $1,000,000 for Sweetgrass Commons, our upcoming 26-unit affordable housing project in Missoula. A 95% reduction in support for affordable housing like Sweetgrass Commons, for instance, would leave only $50,000 in HOME funds for much-needed housing. There’s no way, as generous as they are, that our donors can fill a $950,000 gap in one, two or even five years.

Without sufficient HOME funds, Homeword will be forced to greatly reduce the number and rate of safe, affordable homes we provide to Montanans. This comes at a time when community leaders are pleading for us to increase our affordable housing around the state because their communities lack safe, decent places for people to live.

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Celebrating HomeOwnership Month

  • posted by Jessica Burson
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Celebrating HomeOwnership Month

Listening to Ann Quirk share her homebuying story during our annual Donor Appreciation Luncheon on June 16, we were struck by how much pride she had in accomplishing her dream of homeownership and how she intentionally upgraded her home using sustainable materials.

June is National Homeownership Month. We are celebrating the success of many people like Ann who have achieved their dream of homeownership. We believe that everyone deserves access to good quality, affordable housing. Use of sustainable materials and methods is also something we greatly value, because it impacts the world around us. Whether you rent or own, your home provides a solid foundation to build a brighter future, from building assets to having a safe place to live and spend time with friends and family.

Ann said of her experience with our Get Ready for HomeOwnership class, “My story of becoming a homeowner is a pretty unique one. I actually started out in this very room, presenting to the first time homebuyers before I became a homeowner myself.

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