The Philanthropy Collaborative

Regional Case Studies

NeighborWorks Montana
Great Falls, Montana

NeighborWorks Montana (NW Montana) was founded in 1997, as a project of Neighborhood Housing Services of Great Falls. The program has 27 partners across Montana that provide homebuyer education, homeownership planning, credit repair, rental counseling, and financial fitness classes. The program also offers foreclosure prevention help to those who need it, reverse mortgage counseling for seniors, and loans for down payments and closing costs.

Neighborworks MT runs a revolving loan fund, which consists of a mix of Federal and city funds, that helps program enrollees buy their houses. The program also offers amortizing mortgages, a product designed for families who are caught in high rent markets and cannot save for a down payment. The loan program has a default rate of just over 1 percent. NW Montana also runs a loan pool, as a Federal Community Development Financial Institution (CDFI) that is used to finance rental projects. Individuals can use the funds for acquisition, pre-development, or long-term cost. To date, the program has developed 213 units, supporting approximately 200 jobs over the past two years.

NeighborWorks Great Falls runs a construction program that builds or renovates approximately 10 houses a year. Last year, an increase in Federal funding made it possible for them to build and renovate 21 homes, something that supported 42 construction jobs.

Support from foundation partners is critical, Rice says. "[The] the magic of foundation funding [is that] We can use it for match dollars, and that automatically increases the value of the donation," said Rice.

In 2009 alone, the program provided 1,890 families with financial counseling and assisted 220 families in purchasing their homes, either through counseling or financial assistance with a down payment, closing costs, or financing.

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