Young couple smiling at each other with a manufactured home in the background.
Impact Stories

Manufactured home owners in Montana

Manufactured housing makes up nearly 12% of the housing stock in Montana, providing shelter for 53,000 families.

When people think of affordable housing in the United States they often think of subsidies, vouchers and large, multi-family housing complexes.

Housing in rural Montana

In rural areas, like Montana, these things are all present, but manufactured housing tends to play the largest part in sheltering low- and moderate-income families.

Two horses in a field in front of a Montana town.

The reality of manufactured housing

But there are problems with this form of shelter.  First, approximately 50% of manufactured housing units in Montana were built prior to proper building code for this type of structure.  Many units are unhealthy and extremely energy inefficient.

Manufactured home with a view of the front porch.

Financing challenges

Second, financing is a major issue.  The housing type has evolved from truly mobile “trailer” to permanent “factory built,” but financing systems have not kept up.  Unless sitting on a permanent foundation (which most units are not) manufactured housing is titled like automobiles and loans tend to be short term and high priced.  Moreover, most manufactured housing sits on leased rather than owned land, putting homeowners in unstable tenancy relationships.  Month-to-month leases are not uncommon.

Working together to find solutions

We support NeighborWorks Montana, a state NGO, with cash and in-kind contributions, to organize residents of manufactured housing parks into cooperatives and stabilize tenancy by taking control of the land underneath their homes.

New manufactured home in a new community.

Lending to create stable foundations

We have designed an innovative loan product which provides borrowers a 20-year fixed rate at responsible pricing to make new purchases, refinances, and even cash out advances for small scale improvements more affordable for manufactured homeowners, regardless of whether there is a permanent foundation or not.  The credit union has also partnered with local Human Resource Councils and the Montana Board of Housing to create loss reserves targeting replacement of the older, pre-building code units.

Workers pour the foundation for the construction of a residential building using mobile concrete mixers.

One home at a time

Clearwater Credit Union is proud to be putting its values to work to make these small, but powerful changes happen in the communities it serves.

Man and woman sit in the backyard of their new house enjoying a camp fire.

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