NeighborWorks News

NeighborWorks Names New Homeownership Center Director

NeighborWorks Names New Homeownership Center Director

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls is pleased to announce the promotion of Laura Bolstad to Homeownership Center Director! Laura has been with NeighborWorks Great Falls for over 15 years in various roles - most recently, as a Homeownership Planner, specializing in foreclosure and reverse mortgage counseling. Laura will be replacing Karen Nebel, who retired last month after almost 20 years of service to NeighborWorks.

“I have had the opportunity to be included in the growth of NeighborWorks Great Falls and the changes necessary to keep our mission alive. I am excited to bring my experiences at NWGF full circle and continue to help individuals and families reach their homeownership goals! I look forward to maintaining and establishing community partnerships along the way!”

Laura’s passion and vision for our Homeownership line of business stands out and we couldn’t be more excited to see her excel in this role. Join us in congratulating Laura!

2018 Most Improved Award Winners

Wednesday, June 06, 2018

Today, NeighborWorks celebrated improvements in Great Falls at the Annual Most Improved Awards. These awards honor folks who improve our city and the property owners who have invested their hard-earned funds into the historic neighborhoods of Great Falls. The 2018 Award Winners are listed below.

Most Improved Rental – Joel and Jenny Todd, 624 5th Avenue South:

This blighted property sat vacant for 17 years when a buyer out of Bozeman bought it off of a tax sale and was overwhelmed with the project. Soon after, Joel and Jenny Todd purchased this property for its beauty, character and historical features and set to work. They installed a new boiler, new sewer, new windows, refinished staircases, re-plumbed, rewired, re-roofed, and repainted (just to name a few things). There are five units located within the property.

Most Improved Residential – Michael Croscutt, 2301 Central Avenue:

Michael’s son purchased the house in 2008. They started out with the foundation and went on to gutting the house and remodeling it. This most improved award is 10 years of hard work and determination in the making. Thank you for helping beautify our community!

Most Improved Commercial Property - The Diegel Building, 26 4th Street North:

The Diegel Building has been under renovation since September of 2016. The owners, Paul and Tom Diegel and the property manager, Allison Smith have worked hard and still are planning more finishing touches. The building was 4 or 5 separate structures at one point and now house Keen Kut, Gateway and formerly Sutherlands.

Best New Building Award: SpringHill Suites by Marriott Great Falls 421 3rd St NW:

They started construction in January 2017 and opened on April 12, 2018. The hotel boasts 4 floors, with 132 suites, an indoor heated pool, a fitness center and 4 meeting rooms with over 2600 square feet of meeting space. Located on the Missouri River in the heart of Montana, Great Falls provides a base camp for a wide range of outdoor adventures and offers a haven of rich arts, and culture.

Best New Downtown Building Award - Lithia Motors, 800 Central Avenue:

They purchased the building from Bennett Motors in 2015 and started construction in October of 2015. Construction was finished in February 2018 and grand opening is set for late summer.

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: Peak West Bank Landing, 401 3rd Street NW:

The building was built in the early 1880's and was part of the first settlement in the area as a hub for the BNSF Railway. The renovation and construction started in the beginning of 2017 and just opened the facility in January of 2018. The facility is located on the Missouri River that boasts 15,000 square feet of amenities including first class equipment – state of the art cardio machines, and a spacious equipment floor, 3 studios, and a kids club childcare.

Volunteer of the Year – Sandy Rice:

Sandy has made Great Falls a better place to live for many years volunteering at Meals on Wheels, joining the AAUW, and getting appointed, then elected to Neighborhood Council 7, and the Downtown Safety Alliance. As a member of the Safety Alliance, she visited all of the Councils to talk about safety downtown, pan-handling diversion and bringing good news about the ascendancy of Downtown as THE place to shop, eat, play, live and recreate. Sandy loves living in the downtown neighborhood and does her best to make it a better place to live always picking up trash and keeping her eyes open for more ways to make Downtown Great Falls a great place.


NeighborWorks Board Member Recognition – Brett Doney:

Brett is the President and CEO of the Great Falls Development Authority and High Plains Financial. He has over 30 years’ experience leading economic development organizations. He was a NeighborWorks Board member for nine years and always had great input to bring NeighborWorks to a new level.


Business Partner of the Year - Leonard Lundby – Triangle Turf:

Leonard at Triangle Turf is always one of NeighborWorks’ most pleasant vendors. NeighborWorks Great Falls has been working with him for 8 years with our Sod and Spray program every spring. Leonard is a fantastic supporter of NeighborWorks.

Realtor of the Year - Polly Pearson/Abby Williams, Keller Williams:

Keller Williams was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, as a listing realtor and even a few as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls.Thank you for helping our customers become homeowners!


Lending Partner of the Year – Doug Spence, Embark Credit Union:

Doug is a lender that goes above and beyond always finding the best product for his clients. Doug was involved in the most transactions with NeighborWorks loan products. Doug is always helpful and attentive to each of his customers – he looks at where they are at and gives them every option he can find in order to get them into a home. He loves to help people and always guides them in the right direction with a smile.


Local Neighbors Come Together to Celebrate Community during National NeighborWorks Week

Local Neighbors Come Together to Celebrate Community during National NeighborWorks Week

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Great Falls, MT— The week of June 2nd – 9th residents and supporters will celebrate what makes Great Falls unique, as part of a week-long celebration of neighborhood activities nationally recognized as NeighborWorks Week.

During NeighborWorks Week, NeighborWorks Great Falls and other NeighborWorks organizations across the country will mobilize tens of thousands of residents, business people and government officials in a week of neighborhood change and awareness, including painting and landscaping properties, recognizing successful partnerships and hosting a number of events that educate, train and inform. NeighborWorks Great Falls will celebrate with two events. First the Most Improved Awards, which are meant to honor and celebrate those who have invested in our community. This year’s celebration will be held at the Springhill Suites at noon on June 6th. The second event is NeighborWorks annual Neighborhood Tour – this event will showcase the impact and positive change in our community over the past 38 years. This tour will be on a 32 passenger limo bus on June 7th at 2:30pm. For more information on either event, visit: https://www.nwgf.org/features/events or call NeighborWorks office at 406-761-5861.

The 2018 NeighborWorks Week theme is “Advancing Opportunity,” and NeighborWorks organizations advance opportunity by empowering residents and communities with the tools, skills and services they need to help everyone thrive. The National NeighborWorks network is celebrating their 40th year in 2018.

Sherrie Arey, NeighborWorks Executive Director says, “The impact of the NeighborWorks network is far spread throughout the country, NeighborWorks Great Falls is proud to be a network partner and participate in celebrating the advancement of opportunities in our community, as well as on a national level over the last 40 years”.

NeighborWorks Great Falls is part of the national NeighborWorks network, an affiliation of more than 240 nonprofit organizations located in every state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Over the past 40 years, NeighborWorks and its network have assisted close to 8 million people through affordable housing and counseling. In 2017, the NeighborWorks network provided housing and counseling services to 455,100 people, repaired 71,300 homes, and created and maintained 43,600 jobs.The NeighborWorks network was founded and is supported by NeighborWorks America, which creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities.

40th High School House Completed

40th High School House Completed

Friday, May 18, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools celebrated the completion of the 2018 High School House yesterday with students, teachers, and the support of many community members. This year Great Falls High and CMR Students worked together to build the home. Students from both schools worked throughout the school year to build the home from the ground up located at 2108 6 th Ave South. Interior design students choose the finishings of the home. Each year, four students, two from CMR and two from Great Falls High are chosen as Student Builder of the Year and Design Student of the Year. This year’s winners from CMR included Joel Lorang as Student Builder of the Year and Teagan Tabacco as Design Student of the Year. Great Falls High winners included Thain Johnson as Builder of the Year, and Brynn Dart as Design Student of the Year. All four students received a plaque for their accomplishment and $100. Great Falls Public Schools’ Student Culinary Program also participated by providing appetizers and desserts for open house guests. NeighborWorks would like to thank the many community partners involved in making this project possible year after year.

About The High School House Program

NeighborWorks Great Falls was founded in 1980 with a mission to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing and help residents become first-time homebuyers. A primary strategy in our work is collaboration with local partners, and one of the most significant examples of this is our High School House program.

NeighborWorks Great Falls joined forces with Great Falls public schools to create the program, which provides new homes for residents with low or moderate incomes and gives high school students valuable employment skills. The students provide the labor while NeighborWorks supplies the lot, arranges subcontractors and finances the construction. We also work with potential homebuyers to get them mortgage-ready with homebuyer education, individual homeownership planning and down payment assistance through a matched savings program.

For more information on the High School House program: https://www.nwgf.org/Highschoolhouse

 

NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

Monday, April 02, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls has chosen to support the Preserve Our Parks Great Falls initiative to establish the Great Falls Park District. We offer our support based on our long term understanding of the impact and benefit that well maintained public spaces do for a community and neighborhood. As stated in NeighborWorks articles of incorporation, dating back to 1980, “This corporation is organized for the following purposes: To stimulate reinvestment of urban neighborhoods in the city of Great Falls through programs involving a partnership of neighborhood residents, business community representatives of local government, financial institutions, and other interested persons…

Why Does Great Falls need a park district?

The city has 57 parks, swimming pools, golf courses, the Natatorium and the Community Recreation Center. These amenities are public spaces we have enjoyed for many decades. The annual budget allocation from the general fund is not enough to properly maintain these facilities. They are increasingly showing their age. As described in the Preserve Our Parks website, “The city Park and Recreation Master Plan identified $12.6 million in deferred maintenance and other operational needs. Establishing a park district will allow the Park and Recreation department to begin addressing the maintenance problems.” (http://preserveourparksgf.org/)

On average a Great Falls homeowner will pay $2.88 per month to maintain this district. Without funding, cuts might mean play structures will not be replaced after removal for safety reasons; less watering, reduced mowing, and continued problems with obsolete irrigation systems; loss of picnic shelters; minimal trail maintenance; and mounting deferred maintenance. Continuing to kick the can down the road will eventually cost much more.

Over time, unmaintained parks will deteriorate a neighborhood, lowering property values and diminishing viable neighborhoods.NeighborWorks Great Falls is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of safe and vibrant neighborhoods. We believe this initiative is a thoughtful and financially responsible solution for the preservation of Great Falls Parks.Please join us in supporting the Preserve Our Parks initiative by voting "Yes" on May 8th.


 

D.A. Davidson and Employees Donate 100,000 Dollars to NeighborWorks

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Local Financial Services Company, D.A. Davison has donated $100,000 to benefit the NeighborWorks Endowment. $50,000 was given from a group of employees, followed by a $50,000 gift from the company. This gift is in addition to their generous giving to NeighborWorks annual campaign.

This gift will help four families per year into homeownership, forever. These four families every year will have greater security and stability, greater education outcomes for their children, and so much more - all stemming from this gift. NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Executive Director, Sherrie Arey, applauds Davidson for their generosity and encouragement of employees to give “We have a long history of giving from D.A. Davidson as a company. I commend their organization for encouraging philanthropy through these donations and seeing the value in our work as an organization”.

In regards to D.A. Davidson’s decision to contribute to the NeighborWorks’ Endowment, Larry Martinez, President of D.A. Davidson Companies stated “The firm and its employees are pleased to support the NeighborWorks Endowment and their continued efforts to build a stronger Great Falls community. We applaud the home ownership programs that have improved our local neighborhoods”.

Donations to NeighborWorks not only help families attain homeownership, but decrease blight in neighborhoods and increase community engagement. The long term economic benefit of NeighborWorks Great Falls’ work increases the local economy, through new construction, realtor commissions, and property taxes - it increases the probability for more stable and secure employees for Great Falls businesses – which in turn benefit the community as a whole.

About NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Endowment: The NeighborWorks’ Endowment will allow NeighborWorks Great Falls to provide homes and mortgages, plus education and planning to create successful homeowners for years to come, despite rapidly shrinking federal funds. An endowment creates an income stream for the future that assures good work can continue, regardless of the variations of federal and foundation funding. Certain charitable donations will qualify for the Montana endowment income tax credit and can be made in a variety of forms. All contributions quality for the Federal and State charitable income tax deduction. For more information, please visit www.nwgf.org/endowment.

 

Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Should I rent or buy?

The decision to rent or buy depends on your financial situation, your lifestyle, how long you expect to remain in a certain area, the prevailing mortgage rates and rents in your area, and many other factors.

If you’re a renter, it can be frustrating to write a rent check every month and have no home equity to show for it at the end of the year. But if you aren’t certain that you’re going to stay put for a few years, it’s probably not the right time to buy—equity or no equity. You should not buy property and automatically assume that you’ll be able to rent it out or sell it when you move.

Ask your NeighborWorks homeownership planner for his/her assessment. There are also a myriad of tools available online to calculate the financial benefit of renting or buying, depending on your situation.

How will owning a home change my life?

Owning a home takes time and hard work and it is perhaps the greatest financial investment you may ever make. It’s essential that you protect your new asset through home safety precautions, sound household budgeting, and regular home maintenance. As you pay down your mortgage over time, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are building equity for the future. You also will gain pride in ownership, personal stability, potential tax benefits and be a part of building a stronger community.

How much home can I afford?

The amount of money you can afford to pay for a home depends on many factors, including your income, your debt, your monthly expenses, the amount of money you can contribute to the purchase up front, among other factors. The maximum dollar amount that a bank will agree to lend you should be the upper limit; in most cases, it is advisable to borrow less than this amount.

There are many calculators available online to help you get a general sense of what you can afford on sites like Zillow, Bankrate.com, and others. These sites take a look at your TOTAL debt when calculating what your maximum home purchase price. When looking at your total debt (your house payment plus any other monthly debts you might be paying), most lenders consider your total monthly debt to be sustainable when it is 36% or less than your gross monthly pay.

There are many factors to consider when deciding between renting and buying, at NeighborWorks we recommend meeting with our homeownership planners as your first step. Our free appointments will allow you to look at your credit, budgeting habits, affordability factors, financial assistance you may qualify for and ultimately how to make your homeownership goals a reality. Create a homeownership profile to get started!

Generous Donations Kick-off NeighborWorks Endowment

Generous Donations Kick-off NeighborWorks Endowment

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls has received tremendous community support as the kick off their multi-year endowment campaign. Major contributions include the Thayer family, Cari and Jim Yturri, Steve and Carla King, Johnson Madison – Bill and Larry Madison, First Interstate Bank and anonymous donors. Donations from these supporters alone total over $260,000. The NeighborWorks Endowment, including investments and pledges, now stands at $612,000. Many donors took advantage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, which gives a donor an income tax credit up to $10,000 per taxpayer for an endowment gift. NeighborWorks would like to thank the community for their continuous support, and in particular the generosity of the donors mentioned above.

First Interstate Bank presented NeighborWorks Great Falls with a check for $10,000. Kyle Herda, Branch Manager stated “First Interstate Bank has been a prominent supporter of NeighborWorks Great Falls for many years. As a financial institution, we can really recognize the value of the unique programs they offer to our community.”

Former long term Executive Director Sheila Rice emphasizes the importance of this endowment, looking to NeighborWorks’ future; “The future of NeighborWorks Great Falls is made possible by the endowment. As Federal funds dwindle, the endowment earnings will continue our long legacy of creating opportunities for homeownership for hard working families. Our new Executive Director, Sherrie Arey, will carry the endowment campaign forward to reach the $2.5 million goal, which supports 100 homebuyers every year, forever”.

Sherrie Arey, NeighborWorks’ new Executive Director thanks the community for their previous support and continuous generosity throughout this endowment. “Our community is dedicated to creating strong neighborhoods and successful homeowners; this is exemplified by the commitment made by so many who are supporting our endowment. We have a long history of benefiting from a very generous community in our fund drive and many of those same individuals and businesses are now setting the pace in our endowment campaign. We are so very grateful for their deep understanding of our mission and the long term investment they are making in our future and in the future of families throughout Great Falls”.

 

About NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Endowment: The NeighborWorks’ Endowment will allow NeighborWorks Great Falls to provide homes and mortgages, plus education and planning to create successful homeowners for years to come, despite rapidly shrinking federal funds. Every day, families come into NeighborWorks Great Falls determined to find a way to create wealth through homeownership. They are willing to work for a home, but need a little bit of help to get there. School debt, cost of living, and high rents are keeping these families and individuals from living out their dream of homeownership. Attaining a home would provide a safe and stable place to live, and a place for their family to thrive. “Homeownership and the pride that comes with it should never be taken for granted. That’s why we are proud to help build the NeighborWorks’ endowment so that many generations can enjoy the pride, satisfaction, and community that come with owning and living in the comfort of their own home” – Board Member, Steve King and his wife Carla.

An endowment creates an income stream for the future that assures good work can continue, regardless of the variations of federal and foundation funding. Certain charitable donations will qualify for the Montana endowment income tax credit and can be made in a variety of forms. All contributions quality for the Federal and State charitable income tax deduction. Please visit www.nwgf.org/endowment for more information.

 

 

Getting Started: NeighborWorks Customer Portal

Thursday, December 07, 2017

 

Step 1: Get to our Customer Portal

There are many links throughout our website to get you to our customer portal - the most prominent being the "Create a Customer Profile" button on our homepage - or by clicking the "Login|Create Account" in the upper right-hand corner. From here you can just click here - we'll open it in a new tab and you can create your account while follow along.


 

Step 2: Create an Account

By selecting the "Sign up Now" button you will be taken to the page below where we gather very basic information about you and where you are in the home buying process. Fill out this information, click "continue" and fill out the information on the following page - then click "Create Account".

 

Step 3: Check your Email

Our system will have sent you a confirmation email. This email will be from shp@nwgf.org - simply select "Confirm your Account". This step is necessary to move forward.

A window will open prompting you to create a password for your account. Your password must be at least 8 characters long and have a mix of letters and numbers. Once you've decided on a password select "Set Password".

 

Step 4: Complete your profile

Once your password is set and you are in your profile you will see a button on the center of the screen to "Complete your Profile" - click on this. You will be asked a series of questions allowing us to understand your needs and goals regarding homeownership. You can track your progress through the percentage bar at the top. Most of these questions are required, so please take the time to answer all questions. All answers are confidential information. After the last page select "Save".


 

Step 5: Go to the "Appointments/Classes" tab at the top of the page

Choose the date you'd like to attend, and click register. After clicking register, the site will prompt you to fill out your credit card information in order to pay and reserve your spot. Our site is secured through Stripe payment processing.

Once you've paid you are all set!

If you'd like one on one guidance with our homeownership planners check your email - you should have a received an email prompting you to follow a link to sign a disclosure document and also instructions to upload your most recent pay stubs under the "My Documents" tab.


Problem signing up?

Give us a call or send us an email - we are happy to help!

 

Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Monday, November 13, 2017

What is a budget? A budget is a plan for your money. It allows you to track the money going in and out of your household. A budget can also help you prepare for large or unexpected expenses, encourage savings, identify wasteful spending, and help you accomplish financial goals, such as becoming a first-time homeowner, or improving your credit report.

Why do I need a budget? The single most powerful tool to improve your financial situation is to understand your financial situation – where your money is going and how and why you spend it. By laying out all of your expenses and goals, a budget breaks down the steps to financial improvement into day-to-day spending and savings habits. This will let you take control of your finances in order to accomplish your goals.

How do I create a budget?

  • There are numerous resources and tools that can help you construct a budget, such as mint.com, youneedabudget.com, and others. A more personalized approach can be had by working with a NeighborWorks pre-purchase planner to create a budget that is right for you.

    The basic steps to establish a budget, or spending plan, are as follows.

    • Determine your monthly net income – the amount that you take home each month after taxes, withholdings, etc.
    • Calculate your monthly expenses.
      • Fixed expenses stay the same every month – like rent or a car payment.
      • Periodic fixed expenses are paid periodically for goods and services, like car insurance, water, electricity, etc.
      • Flexible expenses change from month-to-month – groceries, entertainment, and travel.
      • Indebtedness expenses are debt for goods and services bought on credit. Credit card debt, student loans, and car loans are common types.
      • NeighborWorks Tip: It can be helpful to simply record all of your financial transactions for a month or more, so you can see where your money is actually going. Compare this to the expenses you have calculated.
    • Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income.
      • If expenses exceed income, plan to reduce debt and increase income.
        • Flexible expenses are often the easiest to reduce – cut back on discretionary spending for entertainment, meals out, etc. Distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’
        • Pay down high-interest debts first, especially on credit cards. These debts cost you more the longer you owe them.
      • If your income exceeds your expenses, begin saving.
        • Start with an emergency fund - enough money to cover your basic living expenses and debts for a period of 3 to 6 months.
        • Retirement savings - 401(k) or IRAs are a good place to save money for retirement.
        • Savings for big purchases, like a down payment on a house, or a new car!
    • Evaluate your plan.
      • Which financial habits/circumstances are easiest to change? Which are the hardest? Is a house worth giving these things up?
      • Are you ready to implement this plan right now, or are there other things you want to do first?
    • If homeownership is your goal and it appears to be within reach, set a savings goal: buying a home. Compare your monthly budget against the upfront and ongoing costs of buying a home. These can include:

      Upfront Costs: down payment, inspection, appraisal, closing costs, escrows, reserves, and moving costs

      Ongoing Costs: Mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance and repairs, common charges, and emergency funds.

      Seems like a lot? Get in touch with NeighborWorks! We'll help you step by step to achieve your dreams of homeownership.

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