Homeownership is one of the most attainable means of wealth creation for low-income rural households while helping to build community assets. Opportunity Link is committed to supporting the Mutual Self-Help Housing program and other affordable housing programs (IDA Housing programs) that help make homeownership a reality for our rural families.
- Opportunity Link offers two Housing IDA Programs through a partnership with NeighborWorks Montana. These programs are also sponsored by Benefis Hospital, Kellog Foundation, Montana Legal Services, the Federal Assets for Independence program (AFI), and the Montana Board of Housing.
There are two IDA programs – statewide and another specifically for those looking at residing in Great Falls. These programs help develop savings habits working toward the purchase of a new home. Savings deposits are matched 4:1 to help homebuyers closer to homeownership. The maximum amount to be matched is $1,000 per individual. In other words, for every $1,000 saved, the program will give the homebuyer $4,000 that can be used to pay downpayment and closing costs.
In the statewide program, the match is 5:1 in the Opportunity Link counties of Blaine, Chouteau, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Liberty, Pondera, Phillips, Toole and Teton.
- Opportunity Link sponsors the Community Service Volunteer (CSV) program in cooperation with District 4 HRDC, Hill County Justice Court, and Havre City Court. The program creates an alternative restitution option for low-income and underage legal offenders who are challenged to pay off court-ordered fines. Instead, they may donate their labor in lieu of cash payment. This allows them to avoid contempt of court charges, regain a suspended driver’s license, gain exposure to a new work environment, and build employment skills. Since 2007, more than 100 court-ordered volunteers have paid off over $14,500 in legal fines by providing more than 1,900 hours of labor. Most volunteers completed their sentences by working at the HRDC-sponsored mutual self-help homebuilding site in Havre, where the investment of “sweat equity” improves personal assets for low-income homebuilders and court-ordered community service volunteers alike.
To date, twenty-two mutual self-help housing families have purchased and moved into their homes built and made affordable through community service volunteers’ labor.