HELENA — A new partnership launching in Montana this month will soon help make it easier for families to purchase their own home.
Wells Fargo, along with NeighborWorks America and its member organizations NeighborWorks Montana and NeighborWorks Great Falls, announced Thursday that they will bring the NeighborhoodLIFT program to Montana. Helena Mayor Wilmot Collins and other leaders were on hand for a launch event in Helena.
Starting Oct. 28, the program will offer $10,000 grants to help eligible homebuyers make a down payment. It is open to Montana families making up to the local area’s median income – which would be $68,700 for a family of up to four in Lewis and Clark County.
Grant recipients must complete a certified homebuyer education course, and they must get approved for financing and be in contract to purchase a home in Montana.
Some groups, including military members and veterans, teachers, law enforcement officers, firefighters and emergency medical technicians, can get grants of $12,500.
Leaders said for many people considering purchasing a home, the biggest obstacle is the down payment, rather than the regular mortgage payment.
“Families definitely have a struggle to make that big down payment, that savings,” said Sherrie Arey, executive director of NeighborWorks Great Falls. “They’re able to make the high rent payments and other things in their life, so this fills that gap that they need in order to move on to home ownership, and then beginning to build their own wealth for their future.”
The NeighborhoodLIFT program is expected to help about 225 Montanans purchase homes.
The Wells Fargo Foundation announced a philanthropic contribution of about $3.4 million to help bring NeighborhoodLIFT to Montana. Leaders said, since 2012, the program has helped more than 22,400 homeowners nationwide.
“When you think about what we’re doing, we’re giving families the chance to have safe, stable housing that’s affordable to them, so that they can go on and thrive in whatever endeavor they need to thrive in,” said Wells Fargo community development manager Jane Pavek.
Collins said there is still a serious need for affordable housing in the Helena area, and he’s pleased to see people coming together for this kind of partnership to address it.
“When there is a chance to collaborate with stakeholders who want to provide opportunities for that, we’ll jump on board, and we will say ‘Thank you’ for that,” he said.
You can find more information about the Montana NeighborhoodLIFT program, including how to apply, at montanalift.org .