Rebuilding the South Side

Community Development

Investing in the South Side

TRANSFORMING LIVES AND CHANGING LANDSCAPES

For nearly 40 years, CLDI has been at work in a low-income neighborhood of Billings, Montana known as the South Side. As a Christian community development organization, it is our aim to holistically invest in the lives of South Side residents for the flourishing of all.

Since 2016, CLDI has invested over $4.2 million to remove blight and re-develop two dilapidated buildings on S. 29 th Street. These two projects alone have drastically improved the perception of the South Side as an entry into downtown. This is just the beginning.

A Broken Community with Tremendous Potential

History of the South Side

As is the case with many low-income neighborhoods, the South Side is certainly marked by stigmas that are often associated with “poor neighborhoods.”  To an outsider our community is south of the tracks, the part of town you simply want to avoid; blanketed with service organizations such as correctional facilities, half-way houses, drug and rehab facilities, a homeless shelter; and the place with the most condensed population of felons, often home of the worst crimes – you name it, it’s probably here.  Yet, despite how the South Side may be understood by others, we are a community of rich history and proud identity.  In the same way, this is the heart of CLDI: to leverage the good in the community for the transformation and empowerment of persons in South Billings through the person of Jesus Christ.

Generations of families live in the South Side, and they have lived here for years.  Floods of relatives, deeply interconnected, form the majority of our community.  Those young people who succeed, despite the odds stacked against them, eventually exit the community, looking for a better way of life.  But even then, after they have long since been gone, they are deeply rooted in the South Side, for they understand the rich community from which they have come.

Holistic Problem Solving

5 Ways we Do Community Development

Education

The education of children is vital for the wellness of families and communities. The South Side is fortunate to have two great neighborhood schools, Orchard Elementary and Riverside Middle School. CLDI partners with both schools, providing mentoring for their students, volunteers, and after-school services.

Employment Opportunities

Employment opportunities are available in Billings, but, it is our experience that the need has less to do with “getting a job” as it does having the skills to keep a job and the skill set to earn a more livable wage. Rail//Line Coffee was created in part to provide job skill and leadership development training for our community, but it is our hope to provide more career development opportunities in the future.

Third Places

This is a term that was coined by Ray Oldenburg and simply refers to places where people spend time outside of their home or work to build relationships, relax, read, or simply have a good time. The South Side has two great parks, South Park and Highland Park, but until we had opened Rail//Line Coffee, the community was void of a community gathering spot to enjoy a cup of coffee and food.

Increased Home Ownership

 Homeownership is an absolute need for any community to be healthy. The South Side has only 32% home ownership, leaving the remaining 68% of all housing stock as either rental properties and vacant homes. CLDI developed a 70-home subdivision in the heart of the South Side in early 2000s to increase quality housing and promote homeownership. Additionally, CLDI has made a push to encourage employees to purchase homes and intentionally neighbor the South Side.

Food Access

People need access to healthy and affordable food, especially in low-income communities where many individuals do not have a mode of transportation apart from a bicycle or the public bus system. Since 2013, the South Side has been without food access apart from what limited food items are available at the Dollar Store, Ace Hardware, and neighborhood convenience stores. For this reason, CLDI has been working with community and nonprofit leaders to provide a solution to the food desert gap.

Removing Blight and Making New

Current Development Projects

CLDI is well-suited to lead in community development efforts in the South Side through a creative Kingdom lens to see the potential for God’s redeeming work and restoration of places such that His shalom (harmonious peace and flourishing) can truly be experienced. The current potential projects in the works are:

Rail//Line

redemptive coffee House

Restoring an old building to a new, trendy coffee shop that provides job and leadership training for local at-risk youth while investing dollars into the South Side community. We love that Rail Line depicts everything we are about. 

Chrysalis Acres

More Home-Ownership

CLDI helped build a 70 home division in 2001 and currently, we like to purchase more of the homes and subsidize the price to eligible home buyers.

ADA Senior Living Housing

Serving the elderly

We are currently working with Collaborative Design to design and build (8) ADA accessible units to serve the elderly

Revitalizing the South Side 

Dreaming for the Future

We have big plans and dreams to continue to invest in the South Side. We want to restore this community to a vibrant and thriving place to live. If you feel passionate about any of these projects, partner with us, we just need funds to make it happen!

South Side Hotel

Downtown Bougie Hotel

Our dream to restore an old dilapidated building on the South Side into a fancy hotel and use the profits to invest more into South Side Initiatives.

Yellowstone Paper Company Renovation

jobs and housing

Providing development in both the housing and commercial sector as well as paving a pathway for more robust career development for those we serve.

Galles Filter Renovation

walkable grocery store

We are working hard to make good, healthy food available. Walking access is critical for the South Side community and we want to provide an adequate grocery store to bridge this gap. 

Partner with Us

Talk to us about one of these dream projects

FUND THE DREAM

Join the vision and be part of redeeming and rebuilding the South Side community. Your partnership makes direct impact and we couldn’t do this without you!