Missoula Nonprofit Moves To Repurpose Unused Oilfield Homes As Affordable Housing

The City of Missoula and a local nonprofit have a plan to place six manufactured homes that went unused at the Bakken oil fields on a vacant lot next to the Missoula Food Bank as a little community for low-income residents. The homes, some with furniture and kitchen items, were originally destined for Sidney to house oilfield workers until oil prices fell. Their efforts exemplify those of a great many other communities nationwide turning to manufactured homes to provide affordable housing—a trend that continues to grow at a rapid pace.

Homeword Leads Project to Provide Affordable Housing to Working Families

manufactured homes missoula homewordHomeword is a nonprofit that works to provide affordable housing to the Missoula area. Last year, the organization bought 10 small modular homes originally intended to house oil workers. Homeword does not consider them “tiny homes” because they are significantly larger. The one-bedroom homes measure 450 square feet, while the two-bedroom homes measure 550 square feet.

Workers will place the manufactured homes on permanent foundations, as well as add porches and storage. There are also plans to add a community garden area in the future. Homeword will sell five of the homes to homebuyers at or below 80 percent of the Missoula area median income.

Homeword is seeking a contribution of $288,924 from Missoula’s HOME Investment Partnerships Program to help fund the $879,658 project. The HOME funding is provided by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

There still is some work to do on the land at 1717 Montana Street. Homeword is applying for a Brownfields grant for environmental remediation because the site was previously occupied by an auto mechanic.

Will Sebern is the grants administrator for the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development. Sebern said the HOME funding will go to help with the purchase price and rehabilitation of the manufactured homes, as well as site work.

“The great thing about this project is it’s providing affordable home ownership opportunities,” Sebern said. “According to data from the Missoula Organization of Realtors, last year there was a real tightening of supply in that market for homes under $200,000 where these homes would be priced. It’s a real step to start addressing declining supply in the market for working families who have a lot of difficulty buying median-priced homes, because that price keeps going up.”

Food Bank and Homeword Join Forces, While Public Asked To Comment on Project

Homeword will sell one of the manufactured homes at market rate, according to Andrea Davis, the organization’s executive director. The Missoula Food Bank owns the land. Davis said the nonprofit has always intended to sell to Homeword.

manufactured homes missoula affordable housing[The Missoula Food Bank’s] desire is to have a good neighbor,” Davis remarked. “We are hoping to partner with Garden City Harvest to potentially have a community garden plot there.”

Due to federal requirements for the use of HOME funds, Missoula is requesting public comment on a draft environmental assessment of the project. The City of Missoula has determined that the project will have no significant impact on the human environment. However, those who disagree may submit written comments before Monday, November 20th by emailing [email protected]. Alternatively, they may mail or hand deliver them to 435 Ryman Street, Missoula, MT 59802.

Missoulians may view additional project information in the project’s Environmental Review Record. The record is on file at the Office of Housing and Community Development and the City of Missoula’s Development Services. These offices are, respectively, at 414 Ryman Street and 435 Ryman Street in Missoula. Residents may examine the record at either office, and may copy it at OHCD on weekdays between 10 A.M. and 4 P.M. The record is also online at ci.missoula.mt.us/2086/Housing-Community-Development.

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