HELENA — A recent housing project by Habitat for Humanity is working to utilize and maximize land space while keeping homes affordable to the everyday Montanan.
“These two homes will be permanently affordable. So, 100 years from now these houses will still be serving families, working families, in Helena. We have to build up a stock of housing that serves the working population. Folks who make Helena function can't afford to live here anymore,” says Jacob Kuntz, Executive Director of Helena Area Habitat for Humanity.
A home off Lincoln Street and Choteau Street was recently donated to Habitat for Humanity. The organization then utilized the property in order to create a second, smaller home right next door. Both homes will be sold at an affordable rate.
“If we're doing something different here it's thinking outside the box and thinking about how do we maximize the use of land infill development to serve as many people as possible. We have a lot of land, a lot of homes in Helena that are built on underutilized lots. So, they have large lots and maybe one house. And, you know, the City of Helena is very interested in trying to figure out how do we maximize land and infrastructure to be able to serve more folks,” says Kuntz.
A $25,000 donation made possible by Wells Fargo allows for both houses to receive solar panels in order to greatly decrease energy costs. The homes will also be put under a land trust ensuring their affordability for the future.
“We looked for a house for a year, kept looking and looking, no luck. And we were able to get this, and it's just a blow to the heart because we've been trying so hard,” says new homeowner, Samantha Stringer.
Stringer currently lives with her husband, 4 kids, brother, and nephew. This new house will give them lots of space and a home to call their own.
“It will change my life ‘cause it feels like I've given my kids a forever home. Somewhere they can come to when times are tough, and they know it's their home,” says Stringer.