Martin Kidston

(Missoula Current) Efforts among residents to purchase their mobile home park in Lolo will be aided by two grants, both of which Missoula County approved this week.

The Two Rivers manufactured home park includes 59 individual lots adjacent to Travelers Rest, just west of Lolo. The residents are looking to purchase the property in a collective, making it community owned.

NeighborWorks Montana said the property is currently under contract and could close in February.

Along with other funding sources, the organization applied for a $310,000 grant from a revolving loan fund held in the county's Community Development Block Grant program. The county has approved the award, along with funding from a second pot of county money.

“We've recommended funding for NeighborWorks Montana to purchase the mobile home park in Lolo,” said county grants administrator Heidi West. “We're also supporting a $100,000 loan from Missoula County, also in support of the same purchase.”

A majority of residents in Two Rivers have agreed or already become members of the proposed cooperative. Such cooperatives have become a popular tool in preserving affordable housing, particularly trailer parks, at a time when property values are high, along with the risk of redevelopment.

Kaia Peterson with NeighborWorks said the asking price for the property is around $5.3 million, or roughly $90,000 per lot. But she said it remains below similar cooperatives including Bonnie's Place in Missoula, where the price of a lot was around $100,000. A similar project in Belgrade had lots at $134,000.

“This is a cooperative purchase of that property to turn it into a place where the folks collectively own the land the trailers sit on,” said county CAO Chris Lounsbury. “It results in something that's more permanent.”