Real Estate

Community Land Trust Awarded Funds to Expand Affordable Homeownership Program

The Northwest Montana Community Land Trust recently received private and federal funds to help boost its inventory of below-market rate homes

By Maggie Dresser
The Trailview housing development in Whitefish on Feb. 16, 2022. Hunter D’Antuono | Flathead Beacon

The Northwest Montana Community Land Trust (NWMTCLT), a nonprofit affordable housing organization dedicated to providing below-market rate homeownership, recently received $35,000 to add more homes to its inventory in the Flathead Valley.

Using the mix of private and federal funding, the land trust is preparing to buy two properties at the deed-restricted Trailview housing development in Whitefish and recently purchased a lot in Columbia Falls where a home will be built.

The Otto Bremer Trust based in Minnesota recently awarded the land trust a $25,000 grant and the Whitefish Community Foundation in May awarded a $10,000 grant to be used to purchased land at the Trailview development in Whitefish.

“We are super excited about the public-private partnerships with developers and donors,” NWMTCLT Executive Director Kim Morisaki said. “People seem interested in coming up with new and different solutions.”

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 below market rate and the land will be leased to the homebuyer for $25 per month.

The land trust currently owns 52 properties in Kalispell and Morisaki is working to expand the inventory beyond the county seat while brainstorming creative ways to add affordable homeownership opportunities.

Corwin Motors recently offered to donate several four-bedroom, three-bathroom homes that would need to be relocated and remodeled, but Morisaki said she can’t accept the donations until they find lots to put them on, where a new foundation would be poured.

“They are too big to put on some lots, and I’ve been trying to find a place to put them,” Morisaki said.

Community land trusts have operated in the United States for more than 50 years by subcontracting the cost of the land from the purchase price of the home. New homeowners can purchase the home below market rate and, when they sell, they are able to make a profit restricted to just 25% of the increase in the market value of the home during the period of ownership. This allows the next homebuyer to also purchase the home below market rate.

Last year, the land trust was awarded $200,000 of Home Buyers Assistance (HBA) funds from the State of Montana’s Department of Commerce Housing Division.

Morisaki said working with these partners offers a unique way to benefit multiple homeowners over generations.

“They are basically a grant to the person who is buying the house,” Morisaki said. “When that person sells the house, they don’t have to pay those back.”

Moriskai said the land trust works with private developers, local and national foundations, and city and state government to create permanent solutions for homeownership.

“We are fortunate to have some amazing partners in our effort to make homeownership attainable for Montanans,” Morisaki said.

For more information, visit www.nwmtclt.org.

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