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Living the Dream (Street)

NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Owner-Built Homes program, while one of the most rewarding, is also one of the toughest. 10 families must work together to build their homes from the ground up, dedicating over 1,200 hours of time and effort. This hard work is referred to as “Sweat Equity” and is what makes these houses affordable. Not only does this program teach valuable skills and creates homeownership opportunities, but it also helps foster a community as no family can move in until all homes are completed.

Sherry Arey, Executive Director

On September 28th, the current homebuilders at Meriwether Crossing, known as Group Three, were celebrated at the annual Dream Street event. These future homeowners will complete and move into their houses this winter, brining the Owner-Built Homes total to 165.

Raine Elwood, Owner Built Homes Participant

Raine Elwood, one of the home builders, was able to say a few words in front of her future house.

“To each and every one of you, I am forever grateful for all your hard work,” Elwood told her fellow builders. “We are very honored to have had so many friends and neighbors from our community here in Great Falls show up to celebrate with us.”

The Owner Built Homes program is a part of the national Mutual Self-Help Housing program, funded by USDA Rural Development. In attendance were individuals from USDA, including Cindy Stene, Area Specialist, who spoke about USDA’s role in the program. Kathleen Williams, USDA Rural Development Montana State Director, shared her thoughts on the program.

“USDA works in partnership with NeighborWorks Great Falls to help ensure that quality, affordable housing is within reach,” said Williams. “We greatly value this almost 20-year partnership that has fostered homeownership for over 150 families so far. We celebrate with them as more attain homeownership in Great Falls, fostering supportive neighborhoods and strong communities.”

Thank you to everyone who came out to support these families and their hard work! Special thanks to Enbar for the drinks and Ryan Severson for the music.

To learn more about the program, click here:

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