NEW HOUSE — This house at 16 N. Virginia is one of three properties the Port Authority has available for low income qualifying home buyers. I-O Photo by Buck Traxler
When the Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) was first mentioned in economic development circles it seemed to be a project made for small communities such as those in Pondera County that have a number of run down houses in town that are foreclosed, rundown or vacant.
“The Pondera Regional Port Authority (PRPA) began to pursue the possibility of participating in the program with the idea that this could be a win-win situation,” says Cheryl Curry of Port Authority.
Local studies by trained consultants showed that the communities had a need for moderate family houses and this program would provide the funding to help create some. “We envisioned putting local contractors to work, cleaning up run down property and creating some nice homes for families,” she said.
The NSP is a program of the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and is being administered through the Montana Department of Commerce with the goal of helping to stabilize the housing market.
It was determined that Pondera County was eligible to apply for the grant program in the census tract that contains Conrad, Brady and Ledger. Once accepted into the program the Port Authority (P.A.) began looking for eligible houses. Currently, the P.A. has three properties available to income qualified households. They have replaced a severely water damaged house in Brady with a new 1,200 square foot manufactured energy efficient home.
“We have completely renovated a 1,200 square foot home in Conrad, including the addition of an energy efficient furnace, refrigerator, washer and dryer and also have a new 1,249 square foot home under construction in Conrad that features a completely energy efficient construction package,” Curry noted.
The energy efficient construction and renovation of these homes has the goal of helping new homeowners keep utility costs down.
The properties are available to income qualified purchasers. The 1,200 square foot renovated house is limited to a low income buyer earning 50 percent of the area median income (AMI) which would be up to $22,400 for a couple and $27,950 for a family of four.
The other properties are available for buyers earning 120 percent of AMI which would be up to $53,650 for a family of two or $60,350 for a family of four.
All the properties have three-bedrooms and are very nice homes.
For further information on purchase, interested people should call the Port Authority at (406) 271-7237, or any one of the local realtors, who all have the properties on open listing.
Back to the question of, “What does all this have to do with economic development”? “We continue to hear of a need for nice family housing in our towns. This is a way to create some workforce housing in order to enable low and moderate income families to locate here for employment in this community and the surrounding communities,” Curry commented.
The program is also available for local people who may be looking for an opportunity to purchase an affordable home. The project has also provided a few local contractors with work during a slow time. The income generated upon sale of the three properties to income qualified buyers is available to be used by the Port Authority for other approved housing renovation projects.
The income generated by the sale of the three properties to income qualified buyers is available to be resued by the P.A. for other approved housing renovation projects.
The funds can continue to revolve through the area a few more times with continued renovations or property clean up.
As with many programs, the project has encountered a few delays and hurdles through the process, but is creating opportunities that would not be possible to do as a private sector investment. But in the end, this type of project is something that would not be possible to do as a private sector investment.
The costs of acquisition and renovation would be prohibitive without the grant subsidy.
The P.A. is excited to be able to provide affordable housing opportunities in our communities and now have the homes ready for occupancy.
One of the properties is at 16 N. Virginia. For more information, contact Curry at the P.A. at 311 S. Main or call her at 271-7237.
One of the available properties could become your new home.