Community land trust and individual development account feasibility in Great Falls, Montana

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Southern New Hampshire University
Twenty-one percent of the population living in Great Falls, Montana, spend approximately 35-50% of their monthly income on housing (rent/mortgage), leaving them struggling to afford minimal necessities (food and utilities) and unable to save for anything else. Rising housing costs associated with the price of land, financing costs (to include down payment), materials, and construction perpetuate and cause an affordability problem for low-income households to purchase permanent housing assets. Great Falls has several organizations that are providing affordable housing options for the community, but these efforts are not enough to keep up with current demand. Alternative affordable housing options must be offered in Great Falls, to include a Community Land Trust (CLT), and an Individual Development Account (IDA) match savings program. The CLT and IDA programs would best address the community’s needs in a collaborative effort with various community entities. A coalition should be formed around the programs to generate support, enthusiasm, and resources to enable sustainable, desired change in the community. Without the CLT and IDA program in the community, an increased number of residents living in an asset poverty situation would occur. An inability to pass assets among generations would happen, thus perpetuating the cycle of poverty and subsidized housing dependence. (Author Abstract)