FEASIBILITY STUDY RFP

December 18, 2015

Request for Proposals: Feasibility Study (Rural Housing Cooperatives for the Northern Rockies)
CLICK HERE FOR ANSWERS TO RFP QUESTIONS

PROPOSALS DUE BY JANUARY 21, 2016
DOWNLOAD PDF OF RFP HERE


SUMMARY DESCRIPTION

This study will examine the feasibility of developing rural housing cooperatives in Idaho, Montana and Wyoming – a region that generally lacks this housing option, but is well-acquainted with cooperative businesses in other sectors.  The successful bidder will examine the legal framework, financing tools, and market conditions that would encourage formation of housing cooperatives in the Northern Rockies, whether they are conversions of existing structures or new construction.  The study will propose approaches to developing housing co-ops in sparsely-populated rural areas through creative approaches and public-private partnerships, and offer success stories from rural communities in other states.  Target constituencies for future housing co-ops include:

  • Seasonal or extended-shift workers in the energy, tourism and agricultural sectors
  • Affordable workforce housing (mortgage cost not to exceed 30% of annual income and work commute is less than 30 minutes)
  • Single-parent families with children who struggle to qualify for loans, manage their mortgage payments, and/or fulfill home maintenance responsibilities
  • Active seniors seeking to downsize, but maintain independent living status in their home towns
  • Seniors who require housing upgrades for  accessibility or to meet energy-efficiency goals
  • Households in manufactured home parks that desire to collectively own their property
  • Rural Main Street programs seeking to revitalize their downtowns and offer work/live options
  • Tribes needing to improve housing on Tribal trust land
  • Communities seeking to purchase and repurpose former mutual, self-help homes (USDA-RD) that need to be retained as low-income housing stock within small communities

BACKGROUND INFORMATION

The most current Census estimates show that there are nearly 3.2 million people living in the Northern Rockies states of Idaho (1,634,464), Montana (989,415) and Wyoming (563,626), with about half (1.6 million) residing in metropolitan areas of greater than 50,000 people.  Another 938,000 people in these three states (29.4%) reside in micropolitan statistical areas where they can easily access moderately-sized cities of greater than 10,000.[1]  This means that about 1 in 5 residents of the Northern Rockies – about 639,000 people – are spread across a vast rural landscape of largely private farm and ranch lands, Tribal reservations and resort/mountain communities often surrounded by public lands. Half of these more isolated, rural residents live in Montana (323,000) with 28% in Idaho (176,000) and 22% in Wyoming (140,000).  They live in or near small towns of less than 10,000 where they face housing challenges of various kinds:

  • Many rural communities are shrinking as farms and ranches are consolidating and fewer children are choosing to stay on the family farm for their livelihoods.  Investment in new or renovated affordable housing has become a challenge for very small towns that lack housing authorities, grant writers, and a dwindling tax base.  A housing preservation strategy is greatly needed in these communities.
  • Seniors who would like to downsize from their large family homes have few suitable housing options in the region’s smallest communities. Even with low-quality housing and accessibility challenges, many prefer to stay rather than move away from friends and family.  Improving housing quality for an aging population is frequently an obstacle in small rural towns given the absence of qualified construction crews to make needed accessibility or energy efficiency improvements.
  • Other rural communities with desirable amenities are growing by attracting retirees and seasonal residents, and home prices are escalating beyond the means of many service workers. Rental housing for seasonal employees in many resort areas is tightening as more property owners are converting their homes to vacation rentals to maximize revenue.

As a rule, residents of the Northern Rockies either own their home or pay rent since very few housing cooperatives exist in any of these states.  Government and nonprofit housing agencies in each state have a variety of programs to assist low-to-moderate income households with their housing needs, but to date, few have explored the formation of housing cooperatives as a means for these families to build housing equity.

This study seeks to identify the opportunities we have in the Northern Rockies to tailor housing cooperatives to meet today’s rural housing realities and provide a shared housing option when other forms of housing may not be suitable or achievable.  NeighborWorks Montana and the Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) are partnering on this feasibility study as they share the goal of strengthening rural communities across Montana and adjacent states.  The mission of MCDC is to develop and promote cooperatives to meet the economic and community needs of rural Montana.  The mission of NeighborWorks Montana is to create opportunities for families and individuals to live in affordable homes in strong communities.

A stable home changes a family forever.  Home is the bedrock of success, the place where we recharge, rest and play. Healthy habits take root more easily in stable, affordable homes. Children grow strong and adults stay well, and live better.  Children in stable homes learn and achieve more in school. Home helps level the playing field. When we take pride in our home, we can take pride in our community and make it a safer place to live. By having a home that is affordable, people of all income levels have more to spend and support the economy.  Families who are homeowners are more stable and will have assets 12 times larger than a comparable renting family. Their children will be more likely to graduate from high school, avoid teen-age pregnancy and stay out of the criminal justice system.

Grants from USDA Rural Development and NeighborWorks Montana are supporting this tristate feasibility study. Additional resources will be required in the future planning for implementation.

[1]  See U.S. Map of metropolitan and micropolitan statistical areas in these three states.

SCOPE OF FEASIBILITY STUDY

The selected contractor will research and outline the evolution of housing cooperatives in Europe and the United States as necessary context for this regional feasibility study.  This general history will set the stage for contrasting those conditions that currently exist in the Northern Rockies states (restrictive statutory framework, low population, dearth of capital, stagnant or declining rural economies) to evaluate where housing cooperatives could succeed if a wholly new approach was designed to serve a sparsely populated region.  The consultant will analyze pilot communities where economic and cultural conditions appear favorable to testing out a housing cooperative concept tailored to the rural Northern Rockies. Draft findings will be presented to a sponsors’ and participants’ workshop the week of September 12th where the consultant’s recommendations for future implementation will be discussed and prioritized, and a final report will be due by September 26, 2016.

This study will begin in January 2016 with three suggested phases of research activity and reporting:

Phase 1 – Research and Assessment (3-4 months) – Includes researching the worldwide history of housing cooperatives with a focus on small, rural places.  Assess what lessons may be applicable to the Northern Rockies and where legal and/or institutional barriers will present challenges for housing co-ops in these three states.  Objectively describe the housing situation currently faced by the most rural areas of each state (communities of less than 10,000) and how nonprofit and government agencies are addressing the housing challenges for low- and moderate-income households.  Use all available HUD studies from Regions 7 and 10 in presenting the housing situation in these most rural counties, and where it would be advantageous to consider pilot co-op projects.  Identify obstacles to overcome and regionally appropriate approaches to forming housing cooperatives at MCDC’s “Back to Basics” Summit set for March 29-31, 2016, at Fairmont Hot Springs and the annual Montana Housing Conference set for May 23-25, 2016, in Kalispell, Montana.

Phase 2 – Pilot Community Feasibility Analyses (3-4 months) – In cooperation with the project advisory team, identify 6-9 pilot projects across the region that would address these potential housing constituencies:

  • Seasonal or extended-shift workers in the energy, tourism and agricultural sectors
  • Affordable workforce housing (mortgage cost not to exceed 30% of annual income and work commute is less than 30 minutes)
  • Single-parent families with children who struggle to qualify for loans, manage their mortgage payments, and/or fulfill home maintenance responsibilities
  • Active seniors seeking to downsize, but maintain independent living status in their home towns
  • Seniors who require housing upgrades for  accessibility or to meet energy-efficiency goals
  • Households living in manufactured home parks that desire to collectively own their property
  • Rural Main Street programs seeking to revitalize their downtowns and offer work/live options
  • Tribes needing to improve housing on Tribal trust land
  • Communities seeking to purchase and repurpose former mutual, self-help homes (USDA-RD) that need to be retained as low-income housing stock within small communities

Identify the potential benefits a housing cooperative would bring to both the members who invested in this housing model and the communities sponsoring the pilot demonstration.  Outline the steps each pilot would need to make to move forward with co-op formation and the likely investment required of co-op members. Present the financial realities of several housing alternatives in the selected communities to compare how co-op housing would contrast with individual property ownership, renting, and in some cases, commuting 30+ miles.

Phase 3 – Regional Planning for Implementation (September) – Present Phase 2 findings and alternatives in written and presentation formats suitable for discussion in a facilitated workshop setting. Help workshop attendees determine which pilot communities should receive regional support in advancing their co-op development plans.  Illustrate how existing financing programs could be administered and what alternative financing methods could be explored for both new construction and renovation/conversion.  Explain how property taxes would be paid by members of each potential cooperative and in what ways the projects would benefit taxing authorities.  Present options for meeting multiple social needs through these cooperatives, including adding home health care (for senior co-ops); child care (for co-ops geared to single parents); or access to health foods (by designing a food hub on the property). Suggest funding sources to help take willing pilot projects to the next stages of planning and implementation.

TIMELINE FOR COMPETITION AND DELIVERABLES

  • January 11, 2016 • Deadline for electronic submission of questions re: scope of work to mcdc@mcdc.coop. No additional questions will be answered if received after 11:59 pm on this date.
  • January 13 • Answers to all project questions will be posted on the MCDC website for all potential bidders to view.  This will ensure that all teams have the same information with which to design their proposals.
  • January 21 • 11:59 pm deadline for submission of full proposals
  • January 22-29 • Evaluate proposals; interview finalists; negotiate final fee and announce award
  • March 29-31 • Present initial findings/methodology at Back to Basics Summit at Fairmont Hot Springs
  • May 23-25 • Present final Phase 1 results to Montana Housing Conference in Kalispell
  • June 3 • Suggested deadline for pilot community applications (those to be studied in Phase 2)
  • August 29 • Submission of draft report (Phase 2) in electronic form
  • September 12 Week • Constituency workshop to discuss and prioritize draft alternatives in final report
  • September 26 • Submission of final report in both electronic and hard copy formats (Phase 3)

CONSULTANT TEAM QUALIFICATIONS

  1. A demonstrated knowledge of all types of housing cooperatives – how they are developed, financed, governed, managed and maintained – especially in rural settings
  2. Experience in preparing both programmatic feasibility studies and feasibility studies for single projects
  3. Willingness to work with a diverse advisory team in shaping alternatives and reaching decisions
  4. Understanding of community dynamics in rural and frontier communities, with special consideration to those who are familiar with/have worked in the Northern Rockies states
  5. Experience in drafting model legislation and designing strategies for successful passage
  6. Researchers who write well and effectively use pictures and schematics to tell a compelling story
  7. Excellent project management so team meets deadlines within project scope and proposed budget

TO BID

Submit the following documents to mcdc@mcdc.coop in a pdf file no later than 11:59 pm on January 21, 2016:

  • Cover letter summarizing your team’s research approach and qualifications
  • Scope of work that illustrates how your team will perform all three phases of research and pilot analyses, participate in three in-person events (March summit, May conference and September workshop), and ensure satisfactory communications with customer and advisory team
  • Budget in $50-70,000 range that details amounts required for research labor, overhead and direct costs
  • Bios for each principal team member that summarize experience and publications  (2-page maximum)

COMPETITION AND EVALUATION FACTORS

This procurement is being funded under a USDA Rural Cooperative Development Grant and conducted by a non-Federal entity according to the general procurement standards detailed in 2 CFR §§ 200.318-326.  The method of procurement to be followed is described under §200.320 (d) Procurement by Competitive Proposals and will entail the following:

  1. All proposals received by the January 21st deadline will be evaluated according to these weighted factors:
    1. Scope of Work, Methodology and Timeline (50%)
    2. Team Qualifications and Experience (30%)
    3. Budget and Overall Program Value (20%)
  2. An advisory team of housing and cooperative professionals will serve as the evaluation team for the proposals and will interview the finalists.
  3. The contract will be awarded to the responsible firm whose proposal is most advantageous to the program, with price and other factors considered.  The Montana Cooperative Development Center is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
About Montana Cooperative Development Center (49 Articles)

The Montana Cooperative Development Center (MCDC) is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation whose mission is to promote and develop cooperatives to meet the economic and community needs of rural Montana.

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: