(Havre Herald) Six months ago things looked bleak for Clear Creek Trailer Court on Havre’s east side.

The property has its problems. Tree roots intruded into the sewer lines that were installed about 50 years ago, raising fears of leaks and sewage backups.

The owners, a Missoula-owned limited liability company, were trying to sell the property, as it was listed for several months with no takers. About 39 lots were rented out, but another 20 remain vacant.

Then NeighborWorks Montana got involved.

“I started knocking on doors to see if people were interested in a resident-owned community,” said Danielle Maiden, program manager for the nonprofit.

She explained to tenants how they could own the trailer court themselves and be their own landlords.

It turns out they were interested.

NeighborWorks and the tenants started working on the details. They hired a consultant to survey the infrastructure problems on the property.

Long story short: the tenants are now the owners after signing the required paper work.

NeighborWorks has a 10-year contract to work with the new resident-owners as they navigate the complexities of owning and operating the trailer court.

NeighborWorks guides 10 resident-owned trailer courts in Montana, but Clear Creek is its first such Hi-Line client.

Residents elected a five-member board of directors, which will set policy and oversee the operation of the trailer court.

Among its duties, Maiden said, the board will decide whether to hire someone to mow the grass on the common property, which may result in a rent increase. The other option is to depend on volunteers.

Maiden said the pride of ownership will result in better upkeep of the properties. Improving resident securing and recruiting tenants for the vacant lots are other advantages.

As part of the effort to improve the situation at the trailer court, residents seek a Montana Department of Natural Resources and Conservation planning grant to devise how best to solve the sewage problem.

The residents said they hope to work with the city of Havre to secure the grant, which could stipulate specific required improvements and suggest more funding sources.

The Havre City Council will review the proposal to sponsor the grant when it meets at 7 p.m. Tuesday at Havre City Hall. No city funding will be involved in the project, the city’s public works director, Dave Peterson, said.