A primary strategy in our work is collaborating with local partners to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing, and help residents become first-time homebuyers. One of the most significant examples of this is our High School House Program, a collaboration with Great Falls Public Schools (GFPS) that has produced 42 High School Houses in this community over the last 23 years.
NeighborWorks Great Falls joined forces with GFPS and the City 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 the city contributes community development block grant funding. NWGF 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. The buyers must be first-time homeowners, and many have become first-generation homeowners.
This fruitful partnership has produced multiple advantages on all sides. The students get to work in an outdoor work site two hours a day all school year long, escaping from the confines of the classrooms. Some who were at high risk for dropping out of school stay to work on the High School House Program and graduate with their class. The off-campus classroom settings provide real-world work environments -- snow, wind, and high temperatures -- everything a construction worker must endure. The program also equips the students for future career path decisions and useful training they can put into practice right away.
2020-21 High School House
This year, Great Falls High and CMR students are working together on the 2020-21 house located at 1509 3rd Avenue NW. This 2 bed/2 bath home is set to be complete in May 2021. Check out the video we created in lieu of our 2019-20 open house to honor the hard work and resilience of last year's students.