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Bozeman housing plan shows thousands of homes needed to keep up with growth

Commissioners say plan provides community framework
Posted at 2:40 PM, Oct 23, 2019
and last updated 2019-10-23 16:40:52-04

BOZEMAN — The City of Bozeman has a new plan to try to fit everyone moving to the city into it. And according to the plan, that involves thousands of new homes in just a few years.

The Bozeman Community Housing Action Plan’s ideas, while not set rules, say the city will need to start building more than 1,000 homes a year to keep up with the growth.

Those behind it say it’s a framework to balance the scales.

“This is the blueprint for future action," said Terry Cunningham, Bozeman city commissioner.

In Bozeman, there are more job openings than there are homes for new hires to move into.

It’s a problem and Cunningham hopes this plan curbs it.

“This is going to be a community-wide plan, figuring out what we all can do," Cunningham says.

Cunningham said 22 different stakeholders, from schools and the Human Resource Develeopment Center, to builders and lenders, spent six months putting this together.

What they found out:

“We need 5,800 additional dwelling units in order to satisfy the need of the community," Cunningham said.

With about 10 people per day moving to the county, on average, and the number of available jobs still higher than that number of people, Bozeman will need a lot more housing.

According to the plan, between 5,400 and 6,350 more housing units will be needed in the area in the next five years.

That’s all to address the current housing shortfall.

“60 percent of those need to be affordable, as well, and we’re on track," he said.

That means if you own that home, they’ll aim to keep it between $160,000 and $400,000.

If you are renting, they hope to keep it between $500 per month and $1,200 per month.

Bozeman’s affordable housing program manager Loren Olsen says Bozeman’s issues fall into a national trend.

“Nationwide, wages have lagged behind housing prices so this isn’t a problem unique to Bozeman," Olsen said. “Community housing represents all types of housing, from emergency shelters all the way up to the very expensive homes that we have around the community.”

And while the plan is made up of 17 different strategies, not specific plans, Cunningham said it’s a big start.

“It continues to involve all of our community partners because the city can’t do this alone," he said.

City officials are planning two open houses on the same day next week, one at 11:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Oct. 22 at the Bozeman Public Library. The second will be at the library at 5 p.m.

Commissioners will then review the plan and all of the public input received on Nov. 18.