Six new affordable homes being built on Montana Street are now available for purchase, with construction aimed to be completed in spring 2019.
The entry-level modular homes are being developed by Homeword, a local organization that provides affordable housing options, and are situated on land owned by a local nonprofit, Trust Montana. Each homeowner will have a ground lease with the community land trust, which keeps them at affordable prices.
The houses are on permanent foundations and range from one to two bedrooms, or 450 to 550 square feet.
“It definitely is a community effort, despite the fact that there are six homes, and while that is definitely a drop in the bucket in terms of what we need in Missoula, it’s significant in what it exemplifies in terms of partnering, and in terms of using a different housing type model,” Homeword executive director Andrea Davis said.
Plans for the land started in 2017, when the Missoula Food Bank purchased the land from a local auto shop. With federal grants like the home partnership grant, people making up to 80 percent of the median area income in Missoula can purchase one of these homes. That’s equivalent to a $15 per hour job.
Three are still available for purchase.
“The city of Missoula will actually place a deed restriction on the property. That’s filed and on the title, so homeowners couldn’t inadvertently sell at market rate, for example,” she said. “The public has the guarantee that they are permanently affordable.”
Homeowners can sell and gain equity but it isn’t dictated by market values, Davis said. Sale prices are $120,000 for two-bedroom homes, and $98,000 for one-bedroom homes.
“What that does, is it ensures that the homeowners build equity but it also ensures that the home stays affordable for the next family at 80 percent median income. We always have to meet that income target,” she said.
The homes have individual porches and access to city sewer, along with storage space and a designated parking spot. A garden area will also be located behind the homes, with the help of Garden City Harvest nearby.
Homes are also fully furnished.
“They come fully furnished – couches, beds – down to the silverware and coffee pot. They’re ready to live in,” Homeword housing project manager Ashley Grant said.
North Missoula Community Development Corporation is also building affordable townhomes in Lee Gordon Place in downtown Missoula, with one left available for purchase. In the future, Davis said that Missoula’s Housing Policy will try and address more ways to create affordable housing.
Creating accessory dwelling units on existing homes properties and updating regulatory framework are possible solutions. Providing assistance and expanding the capacity of local organizations spearheading affordable home developments is another, while creating a revolving community trust fund to fund developments for homeowners and renters is also in the works.
“The city is looking at the whole spectrum of incomes and housing types, so not just targeting particular income levels but trying to achieve more homeownership and rental options,” Davis said.