NeighborWorks News

40th High School House Completed

40th High School House Completed

Katie Batterbee - Friday, May 18, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls and Great Falls Public Schools celebrated the completion of the 2018 High School House yesterday with students, teachers, and the support of many community members. This year Great Falls High and CMR Students worked together to build the home. Students from both schools worked throughout the school year to build the home from the ground up located at 2108 6th Ave South. Interior design students choose the finishings of the home. Each year, four students, two from CMR and two from Great Falls High are chosen as Student Builder of the Year and Design Student of the Year. This year’s winners from CMR included Joel Lorang as Student Builder of the Year and Teagan Tabacco as Design Student of the Year. Great Falls High winners included Thain Johnson as Builder of the Year, and Brynn Dart as Design Student of the Year. All four students received a plaque for their accomplishment and $100. Great Falls Public Schools’ Student Culinary Program also participated by providing appetizers and desserts for open house guests. NeighborWorks would like to thank the many community partners involved in making this project possible year after year.

About The High School House Program

NeighborWorks Great Falls was founded in 1980 with a mission to revitalize the city’s historic neighborhoods, provide affordable housing and help residents become first-time homebuyers. A primary strategy in our work is collaboration with local partners, and one of the most significant examples of this is our High School House program.

NeighborWorks Great Falls joined forces with Great Falls public schools to create the program, which provides new homes for residents with low or moderate incomes and gives high school students valuable employment skills. The students provide the labor while NeighborWorks supplies the lot, arranges subcontractors and finances the construction. We also work with potential homebuyers to get them mortgage-ready with homebuyer education, individual homeownership planning and down payment assistance through a matched savings program.

For more information on the High School House program:


NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

NeighborWorks endorses Great Falls Park District

Katie Batterbee - Monday, April 02, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls has chosen to support the Preserve Our Parks Great Falls initiative to establish the Great Falls Park District. We offer our support based on our long term understanding of the impact and benefit that well maintained public spaces do for a community and neighborhood. As stated in NeighborWorks articles of incorporation, dating back to 1980, “This corporation is organized for the following purposes: To stimulate reinvestment of urban neighborhoods in the city of Great Falls through programs involving a partnership of neighborhood residents, business community representatives of local government, financial institutions, and other interested persons…

Why Does Great Falls need a park district?

The city has 57 parks, swimming pools, golf courses, the Natatorium and the Community Recreation Center. These amenities are public spaces we have enjoyed for many decades. The annual budget allocation from the general fund is not enough to properly maintain these facilities. They are increasingly showing their age. As described in the Preserve Our Parks website, “The city Park and Recreation Master Plan identified $12.6 million in deferred maintenance and other operational needs. Establishing a park district will allow the Park and Recreation department to begin addressing the maintenance problems.” (

On average a Great Falls homeowner will pay $2.88 per month to maintain this district. Without funding, cuts might mean play structures will not be replaced after removal for safety reasons; less watering, reduced mowing, and continued problems with obsolete irrigation systems; loss of picnic shelters; minimal trail maintenance; and mounting deferred maintenance. Continuing to kick the can down the road will eventually cost much more.

Over time, unmaintained parks will deteriorate a neighborhood, lowering property values and diminishing viable neighborhoods.NeighborWorks Great Falls is dedicated to the preservation and revitalization of safe and vibrant neighborhoods. We believe this initiative is a thoughtful and financially responsible solution for the preservation of Great Falls Parks.Please join us in supporting the Preserve Our Parks initiative by voting "Yes" on May 8th.

D.A. Davidson and Employees Donate 100,000 Dollars to NeighborWorks

Katie Batterbee - Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Local Financial Services Company, D.A. Davison has donated $100,000 to benefit the NeighborWorks Endowment. $50,000 was given from a group of employees, followed by a $50,000 gift from the company. This gift is in addition to their generous giving to NeighborWorks annual campaign.

This gift will help four families per year into homeownership, forever. These four families every year will have greater security and stability, greater education outcomes for their children, and so much more - all stemming from this gift. NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Executive Director, Sherrie Arey, applauds Davidson for their generosity and encouragement of employees to give “We have a long history of giving from D.A. Davidson as a company. I commend their organization for encouraging philanthropy through these donations and seeing the value in our work as an organization”.

In regards to D.A. Davidson’s decision to contribute to the NeighborWorks’ Endowment, Larry Martinez, President of D.A. Davidson Companies stated “The firm and its employees are pleased to support the NeighborWorks Endowment and their continued efforts to build a stronger Great Falls community. We applaud the home ownership programs that have improved our local neighborhoods”.

Donations to NeighborWorks not only help families attain homeownership, but decrease blight in neighborhoods and increase community engagement. The long term economic benefit of NeighborWorks Great Falls’ work increases the local economy, through new construction, realtor commissions, and property taxes - it increases the probability for more stable and secure employees for Great Falls businesses – which in turn benefit the community as a whole.

About NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Endowment: The NeighborWorks’ Endowment will allow NeighborWorks Great Falls to provide homes and mortgages, plus education and planning to create successful homeowners for years to come, despite rapidly shrinking federal funds. An endowment creates an income stream for the future that assures good work can continue, regardless of the variations of federal and foundation funding. Certain charitable donations will qualify for the Montana endowment income tax credit and can be made in a variety of forms. All contributions quality for the Federal and State charitable income tax deduction. For more information, please visit


Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Is Homeownership Right For Me?

Katie Batterbee - Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Should I rent or buy?

The decision to rent or buy depends on your financial situation, your lifestyle, how long you expect to remain in a certain area, the prevailing mortgage rates and rents in your area, and many other factors.

If you’re a renter, it can be frustrating to write a rent check every month and have no home equity to show for it at the end of the year. But if you aren’t certain that you’re going to stay put for a few years, it’s probably not the right time to buy—equity or no equity. You should not buy property and automatically assume that you’ll be able to rent it out or sell it when you move.

Ask your NeighborWorks homeownership planner for his/her assessment. There are also a myriad of tools available online to calculate the financial benefit of renting or buying, depending on your situation.

How will owning a home change my life?

Owning a home takes time and hard work and it is perhaps the greatest financial investment you may ever make. It’s essential that you protect your new asset through home safety precautions, sound household budgeting, and regular home maintenance. As you pay down your mortgage over time, you have the satisfaction of knowing that you are building equity for the future. You also will gain pride in ownership, personal stability, potential tax benefits and be a part of building a stronger community.

How much home can I afford?

The amount of money you can afford to pay for a home depends on many factors, including your income, your debt, your monthly expenses, the amount of money you can contribute to the purchase up front, among other factors. The maximum dollar amount that a bank will agree to lend you should be the upper limit; in most cases, it is advisable to borrow less than this amount.

There are many calculators available online to help you get a general sense of what you can afford on sites like Zillow,, and others. These sites take a look at your TOTAL debt when calculating what your maximum home purchase price. When looking at your total debt (your house payment plus any other monthly debts you might be paying), most lenders consider your total monthly debt to be sustainable when it is 36% or less than your gross monthly pay.

There are many factors to consider when deciding between renting and buying, at NeighborWorks we recommend meeting with our homeownership planners as your first step. Our free appointments will allow you to look at your credit, budgeting habits, affordability factors, financial assistance you may qualify for and ultimately how to make your homeownership goals a reality. Create a homeownership profile to get started!

Generous Donations Kick-off NeighborWorks Endowment

Generous Donations Kick-off NeighborWorks Endowment

Katie Batterbee - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

NeighborWorks Great Falls has received tremendous community support as the kick off their multi-year endowment campaign. Major contributions include the Thayer family, Cari and Jim Yturri, Steve and Carla King, Johnson Madison – Bill and Larry Madison, First Interstate Bank and anonymous donors. Donations from these supporters alone total over $260,000. The NeighborWorks Endowment, including investments and pledges, now stands at $612,000. Many donors took advantage of the Montana Endowment Tax Credit, which gives a donor an income tax credit up to $10,000 per taxpayer for an endowment gift. NeighborWorks would like to thank the community for their continuous support, and in particular the generosity of the donors mentioned above.

First Interstate Bank presented NeighborWorks Great Falls with a check for $10,000. Kyle Herda, Branch Manager stated “First Interstate Bank has been a prominent supporter of NeighborWorks Great Falls for many years. As a financial institution, we can really recognize the value of the unique programs they offer to our community.”

Former long term Executive Director Sheila Rice emphasizes the importance of this endowment, looking to NeighborWorks’ future; “The future of NeighborWorks Great Falls is made possible by the endowment. As Federal funds dwindle, the endowment earnings will continue our long legacy of creating opportunities for homeownership for hard working families. Our new Executive Director, Sherrie Arey, will carry the endowment campaign forward to reach the $2.5 million goal, which supports 100 homebuyers every year, forever”.

Sherrie Arey, NeighborWorks’ new Executive Director thanks the community for their previous support and continuous generosity throughout this endowment. “Our community is dedicated to creating strong neighborhoods and successful homeowners; this is exemplified by the commitment made by so many who are supporting our endowment. We have a long history of benefiting from a very generous community in our fund drive and many of those same individuals and businesses are now setting the pace in our endowment campaign. We are so very grateful for their deep understanding of our mission and the long term investment they are making in our future and in the future of families throughout Great Falls”.


About NeighborWorks Great Falls’ Endowment: The NeighborWorks’ Endowment will allow NeighborWorks Great Falls to provide homes and mortgages, plus education and planning to create successful homeowners for years to come, despite rapidly shrinking federal funds. Every day, families come into NeighborWorks Great Falls determined to find a way to create wealth through homeownership. They are willing to work for a home, but need a little bit of help to get there. School debt, cost of living, and high rents are keeping these families and individuals from living out their dream of homeownership. Attaining a home would provide a safe and stable place to live, and a place for their family to thrive. “Homeownership and the pride that comes with it should never be taken for granted. That’s why we are proud to help build the NeighborWorks’ endowment so that many generations can enjoy the pride, satisfaction, and community that come with owning and living in the comfort of their own home” – Board Member, Steve King and his wife Carla.

An endowment creates an income stream for the future that assures good work can continue, regardless of the variations of federal and foundation funding. Certain charitable donations will qualify for the Montana endowment income tax credit and can be made in a variety of forms. All contributions quality for the Federal and State charitable income tax deduction. Please visit for more information.



Getting Started: NeighborWorks Customer Portal

Katie Batterbee - Thursday, December 07, 2017


Step 1: Get to our Customer Portal

There are many links throughout our website to get you to our customer portal - the most prominent being the "Create a Customer Profile" button on our homepage - or by clicking the "Login|Create Account" in the upper right-hand corner. From here you can just click here - we'll open it in a new tab and you can create your account while follow along.


Step 2: Create an Account

By selecting the "Sign up Now" button you will be taken to the page below where we gather very basic information about you and where you are in the home buying process. Fill out this information, click "continue" and fill out the information on the following page - then click "Create Account".


Step 3: Check your Email

Our system will have sent you a confirmation email. This email will be from - simply select "Confirm your Account". This step is necessary to move forward.

A window will open prompting you to create a password for your account. Your password must be at least 8 characters long and have a mix of letters and numbers. Once you've decided on a password select "Set Password".


Step 4: Complete your profile

Once your password is set and you are in your profile you will see a button on the center of the screen to "Complete your Profile" - click on this. You will be asked a series of questions allowing us to understand your needs and goals regarding homeownership. You can track your progress through the percentage bar at the top. Most of these questions are required, so please take the time to answer all questions. All answers are confidential information. After the last page select "Save".


Step 5: Go to the "Appointments/Classes" tab at the top of the page

Choose the date you'd like to attend, and click register. After clicking register, the site will prompt you to fill out your credit card information in order to pay and reserve your spot. Our site is secured through Stripe payment processing.

Once you've paid you are all set!

If you'd like one on one guidance with our homeownership planners check your email - you should have a received an email prompting you to follow a link to sign a disclosure document and also instructions to upload your most recent pay stubs under the "My Documents" tab.

Problem signing up?

Give us a call or send us an email - we are happy to help!


Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Budgeting - What to Include, Why, and Where to Start

Katie Batterbee - Monday, November 13, 2017

What is a budget? A budget is a plan for your money. It allows you to track the money going in and out of your household. A budget can also help you prepare for large or unexpected expenses, encourage savings, identify wasteful spending, and help you accomplish financial goals, such as becoming a first-time homeowner, or improving your credit report.

Why do I need a budget? The single most powerful tool to improve your financial situation is to understand your financial situation – where your money is going and how and why you spend it. By laying out all of your expenses and goals, a budget breaks down the steps to financial improvement into day-to-day spending and savings habits. This will let you take control of your finances in order to accomplish your goals.

How do I create a budget?

  • There are numerous resources and tools that can help you construct a budget, such as,, and others. A more personalized approach can be had by working with a NeighborWorks pre-purchase planner to create a budget that is right for you.

    The basic steps to establish a budget, or spending plan, are as follows.

    • Determine your monthly net income – the amount that you take home each month after taxes, withholdings, etc.
    • Calculate your monthly expenses.
      • Fixed expenses stay the same every month – like rent or a car payment.
      • Periodic fixed expenses are paid periodically for goods and services, like car insurance, water, electricity, etc.
      • Flexible expenses change from month-to-month – groceries, entertainment, and travel.
      • Indebtedness expenses are debt for goods and services bought on credit. Credit card debt, student loans, and car loans are common types.
      • NeighborWorks Tip: It can be helpful to simply record all of your financial transactions for a month or more, so you can see where your money is actually going. Compare this to the expenses you have calculated.
    • Subtract your monthly expenses from your monthly income.
      • If expenses exceed income, plan to reduce debt and increase income.
        • Flexible expenses are often the easiest to reduce – cut back on discretionary spending for entertainment, meals out, etc. Distinguish between ‘wants’ and ‘needs.’
        • Pay down high-interest debts first, especially on credit cards. These debts cost you more the longer you owe them.
      • If your income exceeds your expenses, begin saving.
        • Start with an emergency fund - enough money to cover your basic living expenses and debts for a period of 3 to 6 months.
        • Retirement savings - 401(k) or IRAs are a good place to save money for retirement.
        • Savings for big purchases, like a down payment on a house, or a new car!
    • Evaluate your plan.
      • Which financial habits/circumstances are easiest to change? Which are the hardest? Is a house worth giving these things up?
      • Are you ready to implement this plan right now, or are there other things you want to do first?
    • If homeownership is your goal and it appears to be within reach, set a savings goal: buying a home. Compare your monthly budget against the upfront and ongoing costs of buying a home. These can include:

      Upfront Costs: down payment, inspection, appraisal, closing costs, escrows, reserves, and moving costs

      Ongoing Costs: Mortgage payments, utilities, maintenance and repairs, common charges, and emergency funds.

      Seems like a lot? Get in touch with NeighborWorks! We'll help you step by step to achieve your dreams of homeownership.

Sherrie Arey Selected as NeighborWorks Great Falls Executive Director

Sherrie Arey Selected as NeighborWorks Great Falls Executive Director

Katie Batterbee - Monday, November 06, 2017

Sherrie Arey of Great Falls has been selected as the new Executive Director of NeighborWorks Great Falls, beginning in January, 2018, when current Executive Director Sheila Rice retires. Jim Weber, president of the NeighborWorks Board of Directors, said the local neighborhood development agency, after conducting a national search, found the best candidate right in Great Falls. Arey is currently Vice President for Student Development and Title IX Coordinator at University of Providence.

Arey has completed her Doctorate in Education coursework at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock and earned her Bachelor of Science and Masters of Science at Texas A & M University. She joined the University of Providence in 2014, after 19 years as a university administrator at the College of the Ozarks in Clarksville, Arkansas.

Weber said the NeighborWorks Great Falls was excited to bring Arey to NeighborWorks, noting that she brings a strong management and fund-raising background. “Sherrie has the skills and capacity to lead NeighborWorks Great Falls into the future”, Weber said, “she loves Great Falls and purchased her first home here.”

“I came to Great Falls for a great job, I’ve made a home here because of the great community,” Arey related, “NeighborWorks Great Falls now allows me to serve the community and expand the opportunity for others to find their home in Great Falls, also. I am excited about the future and look forward to building on an already firm foundation.”

2017 Most Improved Winners

2017 Most Improved Winners

Katie Batterbee - Friday, June 09, 2017

Volunteer of the Year: Paul Jermunson for spending hundreds of hours volunteering at the Owner-Build Homes project. In this program, 10 families build 10 homes, no one moves in until all of the homes are finished. Each family and their volunteers spend over 1200 hours building the homes. Paul spent his time with the families that most needed volunteers to help them build.

Board Member Recognition: Laura Goldhahn – Laura served on the NeighborWorks board of directors from 2003 through 2016 and was president of the Board for two years. “Her wisdom and willingness to take risks led NeighborWorks Great Falls to greater achievements and greater impact”, said Sheila Rice, Executive Director, “We are a better organizations because of Laura’s leadership.” 

Business Partner of the year: Stewart Title – Stewart Title, a great supporter of NeighborWorks for many, many years, helped implement the contract for deed financing program, participated in the fund drive (including a you-tube campaign video starring two Stewart employees), and closed the complicated Owner-Built Homes loans.

Realtor of the Year Award: Beth Duke, Coldwell Banker The Falls Real Estate - Beth was involved in more NeighborWorks customer’s transactions, both as a listing realtor and as a selling realtor, than any other real estate professional in Great Falls in 2016.  

Lending Partner of the Year Award: First Interstate Bank First Interstate Bank is was named the lending partner of the year, as the first mortgage lender for more than 20% of the secondary loans made by NeighborWorks Great Falls. First Interstate has been a financial supporter of NeighborWorks since 1980.  

Most Improved Rental: Margaret Apartments, Garry Hackett, 413 Central Avenue - Garry Hackett worked magic in taking the upper floors of the Margaret Building nothing to something. An old hotel, the upper floors now houses quality 13 apartments. Earlier, Garry redeveloped the Hastings Building at 609 and 611 Central into upper-floor apartment units and ground-floor retail space and he recently purchased the building at 511 Central for renovation and his home. Garry’s investments show that he is a believer in downtown Great Falls.  

Most Improved Residential: Lee and Sandy Houle – 420 7th Avenue South-Lee is a long-time supporter of NeighborWorks, having served on the board of directors as a resident of the south side. After growing up on the south side, Lee bought this home from NeighborWorks many years ago and has continually upgraded and taken care of it. This year, due to hail damage, Sandy and Lee completely resided and landscaped the home into a beautiful addition to the 700 block of 7th Avenue South. Lee and Sandy love the south side and intend to live there for many more years.  

Most Improved Commercial Property: Wines By Wednesday Event Center, Mark Tronson, 214 5th Street South

Mark Tronson has a vision for downtown and he is making that dream come true to restoring the long-vacant Van Tighem Metal Shop into Wines by Wednesday and an event center to use for wine tasting parties and concerts. The large space, including a mezzanine level with a historic backbar from Holter Lake Lodge, seats up to 150 people and can be rented for wedding receptions, company meetings and other events. The improvements include new heating and air conditioning, large windows, a new stairway and rails, old-fashioned looking Einstein lights, painting and a thorough cleaning.  

Best New Building Award: Cameron Family Center, Great Falls Rescue Mission, 408 2nd Avenue South- One of the largest investments in downtown in recent years is the Great Falls Rescue Mission Cameron Family Center, built to provide the temporary home where no homeless family suffers and struggles alone, and where families do not have to be separated in order to receive the help they need. Prior to the opening, there were no facilities in North Central Montana that provided a shelter for families with children. The Center features 13 private rooms with private bathrooms and four dorms for temporary residents, a day-care center so parents can take classes and look for jobs and assistance programs, living rooms, community chapels, a family-style eating atmosphere and community kitchens.  

Best Adaptive Re-use of a Building: St. Vincent de Paul Grace Home, 2211 5th Avenue North - The Grace Home Veteran's Center is operating by St Vincent De Paul Society as a veterans transition facility and was very well supported by active and retired military and other citizens who came to build, decorate, trim trees and to clean up debris. Prior to Grace Home opening, Great Falls was the only community in the state that did not have any transitional living place for veterans. The Grace Home repurposes a building which started life as a monastery, continued as a mental health residential center, and now finds a new purpose in sheltering veterans


Executive Director Transition

Executive Director Transition

Katie Batterbee - Friday, June 09, 2017


With this letter, I wanted to let all of our wonderful supporters know that I am retiring in early 2018. When I came to NeighborWorks Great Falls nearly 15 years ago, my plan was to stay until 2018 and then yield this wonderful job to the next Executive Director. The Board of Directors, specifically the Transition Committee, is working with Third Sector Company to assure a smooth transition to the next Executive Director.

My experience at NeighborWorks has been wonderful for every single one of those 15 years. To see our homeowners succeed and build wealth for future generations, to watch the joy of a family moving into a quality apartment, to help community residents grow into leaders, to experience the changes in our neighborhoods – these are the rewards of leading NeighborWorks.

I have so many to thank – the NeighborWorks board for their vision and leadership; our staff for their hard work and love of mission; the volunteers who raise money, build houses and help in the office; our supporters who believe in our mission and contribute to our annual campaign, make endowment gifts or name us in their wills and finally to the neighborhood residents who love their neighborhoods as much as we do.

To everyone who has helped build this incredibly impactful organization over the past 37 years, pat yourself on the back and know that you are a tremendous part of building a better Great Falls.

Sheila Rice, Executive Director, 2003-2018

Interested applicants please see our career opportunities page.

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