Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - With real estate prices escalating beyond the reach of many families, the North Missoula Community Development Corporation and a state organization NeighborWorks Montana facilitated the sale of rental homes to a collective ownership of the residents.

KGVO News reached out to Brittany Palmer, Executive Director of the North Missoula Community Development Corporation for details of how the residents were able to keep their affordable homes and apartments.

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“Garden City Property Management Company actually reached out to us in the middle of that project about another person that they were working with on a different development in town,” began Palmer. “That person was interested in selling to their residents, given that a lot of the folks that lived there at River Rocks Co-op have been there for decades."

Palmer described the development itself.

“The development itself is in the River Road neighborhood in Missoula,” she said. “It's 14 homes on three parcels, and it's a mix of single-family homes, duplexes, and mobile homes and they're just naturally occurring, affordable housing type of units. The folks who are living there have been there a long time so it was really important to them to be able to stay.”

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Palmer Describes the Real Estate Co-op Philosophy

Palmer explained the co-op philosophy as it pertains to real estate.

“They've organized themselves into a residence co-op, so each resident owns a share in the co-op entities,” she said. “The Co-op owns the buildings and then the North Missoula CDC (Community Development Corporation) owns the land underneath and in addition we got $300,000 of subsidy from the affordable housing trust fund to help bring down the overall price.”

Palmer said the co-op model avoids the normal real estate market where bidding by potential buyers can increase the selling price far beyond the reach of most Missoula area residents.

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Palmer Explains Why the Co-op Model is 'So Cool'

“This model is so cool because the seller pretty much gets what they need; the residents get what they need; and the community gets what it needs, just by having more of these types of homes permanently affordable for generations to come,” she said. “There are governing documents both through the north Missoula CDC’s ground lease agreement and through the co-op's bylaws. That way, if somebody moves out, the next person that moves in will have affordable rent. Similarly, if the coop for some reason wanted to dissolve itself, whoever they sell it to also would have to agree to keep the rents low.”

Palmer invites anyone interested in pursuing the co-op philosophy to contact the North Missoula Community Development Corporation.

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