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Officials announce formation of a new housing cooperative in Missoula

A Missoula affordable housing group Wednesday announced the formation of a new housing cooperative on the city’s north side. Residents there now share ownership of their homes, which otherwise might not have been possible.

River Rocks Cooperative is the second “limited-equity housing cooperative” to take shape in Missoula this summer. Fourteen homes including mobile, single family and duplexes in the city’s River Road neighborhood are now under the collective ownership of residents who live there, instead of a landlord.

It’s the second time this year that the North Missoula Community Development Corporation and its partners helped renters come together to buy their homes.

The organization's executive director, Brittany Palmer, said the first cooperative that formed on Wolf Avenue earlier this summer took about two years to come together.

“We were really excited that this second project took only nine months,” Palmer told MTPR. “So, we’ve shortened it, and we’d love to shorten it even more.”

The community development corporation purchased the land the homes sit on at market value from its former owner with a grant from Missoula’s Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Residents received financing for their homes from Clearwater Credit Union and NeighborWorks Montana, a statewide affordable housing organization.

Now, the residents will be able to control their own rents, where and when to do maintenance and other expenses usually dictated by a landlord.

The model is one way Missoulians are seeking relief from a white-hot housing and rental market. Data from the Missoula Organization of Realtors indicate average rent in Missoula jumped about 44% between 2011 and 2021.

Austin graduated from the University of Montana’s journalism program in May 2022. He came to MTPR as an evening newscast intern that summer, and jumped at the chance to join full-time as the station’s morning voice in Fall 2022.

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