We need to work together to solve Montana’s housing crisis. Affordable housing is increasingly unavailable for the middle class, touching both rural and urban communities and making it difficult for employers to hire workers, who struggle to find housing.
There are many reasons for this crisis: the stock of housing has risen more slowly than our state population growth; low interest rates encourage second home buyers to vie with working people for homes; the success of companies like AirBNB constrict the supply of residential housing; and the prevalence of “cash” offers freeze out those needing mortgage financing. And now in addition: the loss of many basement apartments in Red Lodge due to flooding.
Gov. Greg Gianforte has convened a task force to address this crisis, hoping for an answer by October. Yet his actions come after he vetoed House Bill 397, a bi-partisan bill that would have provided developers with tax credits to support workforce housing. Let’s hope he is now more open-minded to this well-recognized approach, which is supported by state Democrats. In contrast, the Republican Party platform does not even mention affordable housing as an issue.
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Republicans passed a bill in 2021 prohibiting municipalities from requiring developers to include affordable housing in their projects. Again, very harmful to workforce housing.
As a candidate for the Montana House of Representatives, I see a role for state government in addressing middle class housing. I would initiate and support all efforts to tackle this complex issue.