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 $16 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


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, it is our hope to provide more career development opportunities in the future.

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 or 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.

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.

Removing Blight and Making New

Completed 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. A few completed projects are:


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.

Mosaic Senior Living

Mosaic Senior Living

This affordable, ADA-compliant housing complex allows seniors on the South Side to safely age in place with dignity.  The complex features 6 beautiful, ground floor apartments.

Orrel Cove


What was once a needle-infested area is now homes that hold families and hope! From the green spaces for kids to play to providing a way for families to have safe affordable housing…it’s all good and beautiful.


More pitter-patter, growth, and restoration of families will be happening! This first year, we will use the home to house our CLDI interns who are immersed in good works in the South Side.

Labor Temple Hall


From a pigeon infested space to 17 sweet IKEA-like apartments and offices for the CLDI staff. We resurrected the Gathering Place (an affordable venue) and invested millions of dollars into a once-blighted corner.


Intern Housing

This would be a 4-bed home with a separate 1-bed basement apartment. By doing this, we could have all the interns in one central location and separate housing for men and women, and we would not have any debt on these homes.

Revitalizing the South Side

Recently Completed Housing Projects 

We’ve been working on our BIG plans and dreams to further impact and invest in the South Side with these recently completed housing projects. Our desire is to create places and spaces that add to the vibrancy of our South Side community. If you are passionate about community development, partner with us! Tag along on a driving tour and learn how you, too, can impact the South Side community.

Tapestry Apartments


This project broke ground on December 15th, 2022.  Directly behind the Galles building is an affordable apartment complex with 27 units called “Tapestry.”

Chrysalis Townhomes

Promote paths to homeownership

We broke ground to build four townhomes in Chrysalis Acres in 2022. This project builds out the remaining CLDI-owned lots and promote pathways for homeownership. 

Fund the Dream

Your partnership directly impacts those we serve, we invite you to join the movement to restore, rebuild, and re-neighbor our South Side community!