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Affordable Housing Group Expands To Columbia Falls

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A Kalispell-based affordable housing nonprofit is expanding into neighboring Columbia Falls, where home prices are on the rise.

The Northwest Montana Community Land Trust owns about 54 properties in the Kalispell area. The trust says it maintains ownership of the land in order to sell homes to low-income families at an affordable price.

Coordinator Brian Parker says the trust has historically used federal funding stemming the 2008 financial crisis to provide affordable housing in the area.

That funding has since dried up, but Columbia Falls is providing $120,000 so the trust can expand into the rapidly changing area of the Flathead Valley.

"Affordability-wise, it needs some attention and it needs to be targeted now before it gets too out of control and there are no affordable options available to anyone up there," Parker says.

According to Zillow’s home value index, the median home price in Columbia Falls has increased 33 percent in the last five years while household incomes across the Flathead County have increased about 3 percent.

Parker says the trust will try to leverage the seed money from the city to gain additional funding, but he says the nonprofit is already looking for properties to purchase.

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