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Nonprofit looks to leverage funding for additional affordable housing

by Whitefish Pilot
| June 28, 2023 1:00 AM

Northwest Montana Community Land Trust recently received $35,000 to assist in the organization’s mission to create affordable homeownership opportunities in northwest Montana.

The organization owns 52 properties in Kalispell, is preparing to buy two properties in Whitefish and recently purchased a lot in Columbia Falls where a home is expected to be constructed soon.

The nonprofit received a $25,000 grant from the Otto Bremer Trust and a $10,000 grant from the Whitefish Community Foundation in May to purchase land in Whitefish to add more affordable homes to its inventory.

“We are fortunate to have some amazing partners in our effort to make homeownership attainable for Montanans. We are working with private developers, city and state government, local and national foundations,” said Kim Morisaki, executive director of the land trust.

The $10,000 will make up a portion of the $75,000 capital campaign the land trust is currently conducting to purchase the land under one home in the Trailview housing development in Whitefish. Once the land is owned by the land trust, the home that sits on the land will be sold to a qualifying first-time homebuyer and leased to the homebuyer for $25 per month. The land and the home remain permanently affordable.

New homeowners can purchase the home below market rate and when they sell, they can make a profit, but it is restricted to just 25% of the increase in the market value of the home during the time that they owned it. This allows the next homebuyer to also purchase the home below market rate.

The land trust was also awarded $200,000 of Home Buyers Assistance funds from the state of Montana’s Department of Commerce Housing Division in December 2022. These funds can be granted to eligible first-time home buyers when they purchase a home to lower the mortgage, but when used to purchase a land trust home the funds stay with the home in perpetuity, lowering the purchase price for every buyer of the home forever.

“Banks and mortgage companies understand our program and work with us to help their customers purchase homes that fit their incomes,” Morisaki said.

Corwin Motors has donated homes to the land trust, but those homes would need to be repaired and the land trust is seeking reasonably priced lots to relocate the homes.

“They have good bones and are large enough for a big family,” Morisaki said. “Just another example of how private businesses and nonprofits can work together.”

Additional information can be found at www.nwmtclt.org or by contacting Morisaki at 406-261-8831.