MISSOULA – Gov. Greg Gianforte visited Missoula on Wednesday to put pressure on lawmakers to pass housing reform bills in the legislature as the housing crisis continues in Montana.
While visiting a newly built apartment building, Gianforte discussed bills that he plans to sign once the legislature sends them to his desk.
“Really, the shortage of housing in Montana is the number one issue facing working families. Part of it is the supply of construction workers but also, we have constrictive zoning that doesn’t allow for family units,” Gianforte said. "We had backlogs in permitting, we’ve seen increases in interest rates and inflation that has driven up building costs. All of it contributed to the high cost of housing.”
The housing crisis across Montana has continued over the last few years. Gianforte toured a new apartment building on Wednesday and talked with community leaders about this ongoing crisis.
"One of our biggest challenges right now is land availability that has infrastructure and the proper zoning need in order to meet the need of the market,” Missoula relator Adam Hertz said.
However, Gianforte noted that land isn’t the only thing that is creating housing challenges in Montana.
“We have workforce shortages in every industry for teachers, healthcare, as well as construction trades and that is the root of the housing issue,” Gianforte said. “We have more demand than we have supply, so if you want more houses, you need more carpenters, and plumbers and electricians.”
While housing remains a divisive topic for members of the Missoula City Council, but there is some common ground when it comes to zoning.
“One of the problems is there is so much development going on and there is a huge backlog with it. A lot of things that my colleagues and I disagree on is inclusionary zoning, [and[ subsidized housing,” said councilwoman Sandra Vasecka. “Fortunately, a lot of the council does agree with rezoning requests and having more info so that is something that I’m happy about.”
Gianforte called on state lawmakers to pass the housing reform bills that are in the state legislature to help with this crisis.
“I’m excited about some of the bills that are in front of the legislature and I’m urging the legislature to get those bills to my desk so we can sign them into law,” Gianforte said.
Hertz said there are things potential home buyers can do when looking to buy or rent a home.
Hertz said hiring a realtor and getting a pre-approved mortgage letter will help, and for renters he suggested looking at several property management companies, getting on their waitlist, and having patience.