Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant for Anti-poverty Community Partnership

Seven smiling folks holding big check

Opportunity Link Inc. is an anti-poverty community partnership in Havre, Montana. It was awarded a $1.5 million Sustainable Communities Regional Planning Grant award on November 22, 2011 by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's (HUD).

Twenty-nine regional areas received Regional Planning grants. The goal is helping communities and regions improve their economic competitiveness by connecting housing with good jobs, quality schools, and transportation.

HUD Office of Sustainable Housing Communities Director, Shelley Poticha, along with the HUD Field Office Director, Erik Amundson, joined representatives for U.S. Senator Max Baucus and U.S. Senator Jon Tester. They were all present to discuss the importance of the grant for North-Central Montana and the United States rural communities.

The grants were highly competitive, with over $500 million in funding requests from communities in all 50 states. Opportunity Link received full funding because as Poticha stated, " knocked our socks off in terms of what you said you wanted to do with our funding, but it also really helped that you have brought together local resources, in a local match, that showed dedication and commitment to working on the challenges of this region."

The grant program is in its second year of funding. It is designed to give great flexibility to the local communities in how the money would be used. The grants will be leveraged with local funds. This more than doubled the investment. They are helping to create new visions for how communities and regions plan for housing, transportation, workforce development, and the quality of life of their residents for generations to come.

Shelley Poticha, Director of HUD's Office of Sustainable Housing and Communities, discusses the importance of sustainable development in both rural and urban areas

Opportunity Link Executive Director Barbara Stiffarm describes how the funding will be used to bring people together to discuss regional needs in Montana

Opportunity Link works in Blaine, Cascade, Chouteau, Glacier, Hill, Judith Basin, Liberty, Phillips, Pondera, Teton and Toole counties as well as the Blackfeet, Fort Belknap and Rocky Boy reservations. The group's goal is "to reduce poverty and help the communities of Northcentral Montana achieve and sustain independence, prosperity, and a better way of life."

The executive director of Opportunity Link is Barb Stiffarm. She explained the importance of receiving the grant and cooperation for community growth. "You're offering to be part of that vision, to make sure that our futures are here and that our children can grow in that…We might have lines and separation, but this is all part of a common ground where we're all living here together, part of this region, part of this state, part of this nation."

Grantee website:


Content Archived: October 11, 2013