Governor Announces Creation of Montana Housing Affordability Task Force

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte on Thursday issued an executive order creating a “housing advisory council” to suggest ways the state “can increase the supply of affordable and accessible housing for the workforce.” .

In a statement announcing the creation of the task force, the governor acknowledged that housing is a long-term affordability issue for Montana residents and blamed the state’s housing shortage on restrictive regulations.

“Owning a home is part of the American dream, but for more than a decade it has become increasingly difficult for Montanese to afford to own or rent a home,” Gianforte said in a statement. “Heavy, restrictive and unnecessary regulations have left Montana with a long-standing housing shortage that continues to drive up the prices Montanans pay for their homes.”

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The Governor’s Executive Decree specifically cites underconstruction of starter homes, supply chain disruptions, construction labor shortages, and zoning restrictions as factors limiting the supply of affordable housing for workers in Montana .

Gianforte, a Republican, has faces criticism in recent months for actively promoting the state as a relocation destination for former residents as current residents face a housing crisis, and for not spending federal coronavirus relief money that had been earmarked for housing efforts.

Legislative Democrats said earlier this week they wanted to spend $500 million of the state budget surplus on incentives to promote affordable home building. At a press conference Wednesday, Sen. Pat Flowers, D-Belgrade, said the housing crisis “is, without a doubt, the No. 1 problem in Montana.”

The goal of the new housing task force, Gianforte said, is “to get to the bottom of the problem and provide solutions to get us out of it.”

Citing figures from the US Census Bureau, the governor’s office noted on Thursday that the state’s population grew 9.6% between 2010 and 2020 but added new housing units at a rate of just 6.6%. . He also said the state’s rental housing vacancy rate, as estimated by the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, fell from 5.7% in 2010 to 4.4% in 2020.

Gianforte’s office also cited National Association of Home Builders figureswhich estimates that the average share of the cost of a new single-family home attributable to regulation rose from $65,224 in 2011 to $93,870 last year.

According to real estate company Zillow’s housing value indexthe typical price of a home in Montana has increased 54% since the start of 2020, from $291,000 in January 2020 to $448,000 last month.

The governor’s office said Thursday that the new housing task force will be chaired by Chris Dorington, director of the Montana Department of Environmental Quality. The group also includes the following members:

  • Senator Ellie Boldman, D-Missoula
  • Senator Greg Hertz, R-Polson
  • Representative Danny Tenenbaum, D-Missoula
  • Rep. Sue Vinton, R Billings
  • Commissioner of the Ministry of Labor and Industry Laurie Esau
  • Amanda Kaster, Director of the Department of Natural Resources and Conservation
  • Department of Commerce Director Scott Osterman
  • Patrick Barkey, director of the Office of Business and Economic Research at the University of Montana
  • Terry Brockie, CEO of Island Mountain Development Group
  • Fergus County Commissioner Ross Butcher
  • Kendall Cotton, President and CEO of the Frontier Institute
  • Nathan Dugan, President and Co-Founder of Shelter WF
  • Mark Egge, affordable housing advocate and data scientist
  • Jaclyn Giop, president of the Montana Water Well Drillers Association
  • Eugène Graf, owner of EG Construction
  • Emily Hamilton, Ph.D., Principal Investigator and Director of the Urbanity Project at Mercatus Center
  • Adam Hertz, Secretary of the Montana Housing Council
  • Great Falls Mayor Bob Kelly
  • Jacob Kuntz, Executive Director of Helena Area Habitat for Humanity
  • Bill Leininger, president of the Montana Association of Realtors
  • Todd O’Hair, president and CEO of the Montana Chamber of Commerce
  • Nicole Rolf, Montana Federation of Agricultural Bureaux
  • Mike Smith, Glacier Bank Market President
  • Valerie Stacey, Lewis and Clark County Environmental Health Specialist
  • Don Sterhan, Montana Housing Coalition Steering Committee Member and President and CEO of Mountain Plains Equity Group

A first meeting of the task force is scheduled for Wednesday, July 20, the governor’s office said. A spokesperson confirmed Thursday that this meeting will be open to the public.

Editor’s note: This story was updated on July 15, 2022 to correct the scheduled date of the initial task force meeting.

This story is published by Montana Free Press as part of the Long Streets Project, which explores Montana’s economy with in-depth reporting. This work is supported in part by a grant from the Greater Montana Foundation, which encourages communication about issues, trends, and values ​​important to Montanans. Discuss MTFP’s Long Streets work with Senior Reporter Eric Dietrich at [email protected]

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