Building an affordable home takes a village

By Chelsea Ditmore
Friday, July 6, 2018
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Courtesy photos

Bottom left to right: Mayor William Larson, Matt Winmueller, Valentine Smith, JoAnn Eder, Hermina Harold, Dixie McCampbell Second Row: Sandy Conlee , Marcella Manual, Kim Haman, Kristin King-Ries, Molly Kidder,

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Sorting out the yard.

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The Cooper Avenue home.

On Wednesday, June 27, the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation’s Workforce Housing Steering Committee opened the doors for an open house and celebration. The whole community was invited to get a sneak peek of this newly built 1478 sq. ft. home located at 311 N Cooper Avenue.

Features include 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths, a spacious open layout, landscaped yard, 8x10 shed, and off street parking, all priced at $180,000. Mayor Bill Larson cut the ribbon to the home designated for the community’s workforce.

“Having a house available at this price range is very good,” said Larson, “It’s a beautiful house.”

“It took a village!” exclaimed Valentine Smith, Workforce Housing Coordinator of the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation. “We have had a steering committee in place that has been working diligently, donating their time, energy and expertise to make this a possibility.”

Jo Ann Eder, Red Lodge Area Community Foundation Board and Steering committee member shared the history of affordable housing initiatives in Red Lodge, starting with the amazing Habitat for Humanity homes, to the transferring of Habitat assets to the Red Lodge Area Community Foundation, to the current use of the community land trust (CLT) model for building the home located at 311 N Cooper Avenue.

Hermina Harold, Executive Director of Trust Montana, the first statewide CLT, shared that Red Lodge is the first community partnering with Trust Montana using this land trust model. Other Montana communities are following suit to address housing shortages including Helena, Belgrade, Ennis, West Yellowstone, Missoula, and Great Falls in order. “This feels like the start of something really wonderful for the state of Montana and affordable housing,” says Kristen King-Ries of Trust Montana.

Over the past three weeks, volunteers have tirelessly put in 92.5 hours of volunteer time to get the house ready for sale by landscaping the lot with shrubs donated by Baldwin’s Landscaping and trees donated by ProCut Lawn and Landscape. The following were personally acknowledged for their generous support of either time, discounted and/or donated services, and materials:

The Workforce Housing Steering Committee: Diane Dimitch- City of Red Lodge, Dixie McCampbell- Habitat for Humanity- retired, JoAnn Eder- RLACF Board member, Kim Haman- First Interstate Bank, Marcella Manuel- Coldwell Banker Realty, Molly Kidder- Altana Federal Credit Union, Jane Jones and Matt Windmueller- Bank of Red Lodge, Jody Ronning- HUB Insurance; with ad hoc members as required: James Caniglia-  City Planning and Development; Jeremy Tomkiewicz- building and economic development background, Kristen Hollum- former Workforce Housing committee member, Hermina Harold, Executive Director and Kristin King- Reis, legal counsel Trust Montana, Sandy Conlee- Montana Realty, Sue Taylor- BRC&D, Pat Thompson – retired Economic Development Corp, Tully Gallagher- Builder.

Donated and or discounted services and materials: Adam Quick- Palisades Builders, Baldwin’s Landscaping, Evans Electric, High Country Excavating, J. Wilson Metals, M. Brown Concrete, Pierce Homes, ProCut Lawn and Landscape, RJ Plumbing, Rock Creek Lumber, True Value, Tvetene Turf.

Generosity of Volunteer Hours: The HUB Insurance team- Jaime Gilbertz, Jody Ronning, Gina Ternan, Tammy Elton; Red Lodge High School Students- Mr. Elton's Construction Trades Class who built the shed, landscaping –Bryce Elton, Paige Johnson, Sean Ronning, Elijah Quick; highly engaged volunteers and good neighbors- Dan Johnson, Donny Glenn, Hannah Johnson, Jim Smith, Dave Westwood, Matt Windmueller, master gardener, Marcella Manuel for your expertise, Sandy Conlee for your fencing plan.

None of this would be possible without the generous support of our community. If you are interested in applying, have questions, or are curious about the project, contact Valentine Smith at, or call 406-446-2820.