Housing leaders from across Montana and Idaho gathered at Fairmont Hot Springs in mid-September to learn how housing cooperatives could provide a new type of home ownership in rural communities. The workshop was sponsored by the Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) in partnership with NeighborWorks Montana as the initial training session for members of seven pre-approved pilot teams.
Over the course of two days, four panels of technical advisors met with pilot teams to discuss co-op housing design/development; blanket mortgage and share loan financing; co-op marketing and owner recruitment; and co-op governance and operations. Advisors included representatives from National Cooperative Bank, the Wisconsin Center for Cooperatives, and Village Cooperative from the Midwest.
Most pilot communities are seeking to supply “missing middle” housing – modest-price, modern homes for young professionals, service workers and senior residents who do not need low-income housing but who are often priced out of the housing market in high-amenity areas. In some cases, small rural towns need to improve their small- and mid-size housing inventory to accommodate retiring seniors, making their larger family homes available for new arrivals.
Workshop participants gained insight into the versatility of the co-op housing model and how different financing approaches could work for those with reliable incomes, but lacking sufficient down payments. The communities that are moving forward with pilot projects and conceptual studies include:
- Big Sky, MT – Mixed income rental/ownership projects – Phase 2 may include co-op model
- Circle, MT – Duplexes built around a common area to serve multiple market sectors
- Driggs, ID – Single family, cottage-court developments for public service workers; entry-level
- Hamilton, MT – Riverside Crossing Adult Cottage Cooperative for active seniors
- Red Lodge, MT – Possible housing co-op owned by employers for their seasonal workers
- Roundup, MT – Repurpose Central School for entry-level workers and seniors; some retail
- Whitefish, MT – Hypothetical downtown housing designed for growing workforce
For more information on the MCDC Housing Cooperative Initiative and to review copies of the final workshop report, go to: http://www.mcdc.coop/mcdc/projects-/housing-cooperative-initiative