A program designed to expend old HOME grants in Missoula County will help some home buyers meet the financial challenge of making a downpayment, and keep the property as permanently affordable through a land trust after the owners move on.
The county this week approved a plan with Trust Montanan to administer around $185,000 in HOME grants first received in 1992. The funding will support a program known as Home Buyer’s Choice – a scattered community land trust project in Missoula County.
“The county has some program funds from an old HOME grant that had come back to the county, and it needed a way to use those funds,” said Hermina Harold, the executive director of Trust Montana. “We’ll help people purchase homes on the market. In exchange for that assistance, the homes will turn into a permanently affordable home in our land trust.”
The county was awarded around $660,000 in HOME grants in 1992. But in 2020, it changed the program through the Montana Department of Commerce to provide down-payment assistance to qualified home buyers.
Of the original award, around $185,000 remains. The plan with Trust Montana outlines the parameters of the agreement and to ensure the funds are spent in accordance with the federal regulations that came with the grant.
“Since it is HOME funds, there are a lot of restrictions and regulations we have to follow, including income restrictions and max purchase price on the homes we had to stay within,” said Erin Kautz, a grants administrator with the county. “It’s been a challenge finding the correct use for those funds, but we’ve found a program that can help people initially buy those homes, and also help people down the road as those houses turn over in future years.”
The program will see its first closing next week on a property in East Missoula.
“It’s been a real marathon to set up this program,” said Harold. “We’ll be able to help someone purchase a home in East Missoula. It will turn into a permanently affordable home after that, and it will only be available to people under 80% of the area median income.”