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Heather McMilin, left, and Andrea Davis of Homeword stand in one of the 10 small modular homes that the nonprofit acquired and plans to use for affordable home ownership or rental. The homes, some fully equipped with furniture and kitchen items, were originally destined for Sidney to house oilfield workers until oil prices fell.

TOM BAUER, Missoulian file photo

The City of Missoula and a local nonprofit have a plan to place six manufactured homes that went unused at the Bakken oil fields on a vacant lot next to the Missoula Food Bank as a little community for low-income residents.

Homeword, a nonprofit that works to provide affordable housing in the Missoula area, bought 10 small modular homes that originally were meant for oil workers last year. They are not considered “tiny homes” because they are bigger, 450 square feet for the one-bedroom version and 550 square feet for two bedrooms.

They’ll be placed on permanent foundations, with porches and storage added, and there might be a community garden area in the future. Five of the units will be sold to homebuyers at or below 80 percent of the Missoula area median income.

Will Sebern, the grants administrator for the city’s Office of Housing and Community Development, said the HOME funding will go to help with the purchase price of the units, site work and rehab on the units.

“The great thing about this project is it’s providing affordable home ownership opportunities,” he said. “According to data from the Missoula Organization of Realtors, last year there was a real tightening of supply in that market for homes under $200,000 where these homes would be priced. It’s a real step to start addressing declining supply in the market for working families who have a lot of difficulty buying median-priced homes, because that price keeps going up.”

One of the homes will be sold at market rate, according to Andrea Davis, the executive director of Homeword. The land is owned by the Missoula Food Bank, but she said the nonprofit always had the intention of selling to Homeword.

“Their desire is to have a good neighbor,” Davis said. “We are hoping to partner with Garden City Harvest to potentially have a community garden plot there.”

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