Northcentral Montana (Include Regional Map)
- An area larger than 10 other states
- Population over 150,400
- 11 counties
- 3 Indian reservations and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe
Opportunity Link serves 11 counties, 3 Indian reservations and the Little Shell Chippewa Tribe of Northcentral Montana. Opportunity Link’s region of Northcentral Montana has an area of over 31,000 square miles and larger than ten other states. Poverty is one of the problems plaguing the region and eroding the quality of life for the over 150,400 residents. Within this region communities report approximately 70% unemployment, while entire counties report that up to 40% of families with children younger than five are living in poverty.
People continue to say it takes almost twice as much to get by as the federal government says it does. For a family of four with two adults and two children, the federal “poverty threshold” is $21,027, according to the US Census Bureau (2007). That means that a family whose yearly income is less than that is, according to the government, “in poverty”. Most of Northcentral Montana region has 1.5 to 2.5 times the rate of this federal standard and more than half of Montanans (52%) say that it takes at least $40,000 for a family of four to make ends meet in their community.
Priorities for Action
Percentage of Montanans who say this should be a “top” or “high” priority for elected officials:
Keeping and attracting more businesses that have good-paying jobs 77%
Improving access to health care and dealing with health care costs 66%
Creating more affordable housing 54%
Improving public transportation 27%
(Struggling to Make Ends Meet, Survey commissioned by the Northwest Area Foundation, 2008)
For more information on each of Northcentral Montana’s counties, reservations and tribes, click on the map or the site on the right.