United Way continues its fight to increase homeownership

GREAT FALLS, Mont. - According to United Way of Cascade County, homeownership continues to decline across the county, but thanks to the help of a few organizations this trend may begin to turn around for the better.

As housing prices continue to rise, United Way and other organizations are banding together to help Montanans purchase their own home and give them some financial stability.

After seeing a decline in homeownership in the 2000s, United Way has worked with organizations like Opportunities Inc. to help families get into low-income housing.

According to United Way, homeownership has dropped from 70% to 64% in the last 20 years but now organizations are conducting a study to find out what the community needs.

"Is that small single-family homes, is it condos, is it apartments. You know what will meet the needs of our community, and then there is some opportunity with some of the federal covid dollars to try and meet some of those needs," said Marketing Director Kim Skornogoski.

For the last several years organizations have made improving homeownership their number one priority, and there are many reasons why.

"Their children flourish and do better in school, parents are no longer living in crisis, their work stability improves, health and resources and their financial management improves tenfold," said Executive Director Susan McCord.

From 2015-2019 the average home in the county was around $180,000. Today, Great Falls Realtors Association reports that the number has increased to $260,000.

Despite the sudden jump, programs like 'Build your own Home' have been showing signs of success and by next year there's a chance people may see something new.

"Helping to maintain their homes and keep them in their homes, and for our senior citizens to stay and age in place," said McCord.

McCord says they hope to get this plan up and running as soon as next year and eventually get homeownership back up to 70% or better.

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