Governor Visits New Missoula Apartment to Promote Housing Reform
Missoula, MT (KGVO-AM News) - Montana Governor Greg Gianforte was in Missoula on Wednesday to point out the importance of housing reform for the state, by visiting a just completed apartment complex on Bickford Street, developed by former city councilor and state legislator Adam Hertz.
After taking a brief tour, Gianforte provided the lopsided statistics of housing supply and demand.
Gianforte Urges Higher-Density Residential Building Projects
“Over the last 12 years, we've seen population growth of 10 percent, however, new housing units have only gone up by 7% percent,” began Gianforte. “This has created a supply problem and just very simply, demand is outstripping supply. That's why we have such a shortage. This is really a bipartisan issue. We may not agree on everything but we all believe we need more housing units and housing to be more affordable.”
Addressing Hertz, Gianforte urged the legislature to change its approach to approving such projects and making the process less cumbersome and expensive.
Gianforte said the Only Way to Decrease Price is to Increase Housing Supply
“Projects like this, thank you, Adam, are one way we're achieving that,” he said. “By increasing supply we will ultimately make housing more affordable and more attainable for Montanans. To address this challenge we can't just keep doing the same thing and expecting different results. The state can't, local government can't. We must change our approach. And I'm urging the legislature to act on the various proposals that have in front of them so we can get moving and get some more housing units built.”
Ward 6 Missoula City Councilor Sandra Vasecka shared her family’s story of trying to purchase a home in Missoula.
“It's basic economics, supply, and demand,” said Vasecka. “That explains why housing costs are out of control. My family, like many Missoula families, is in the same boat of trying to move up the economic ladder and purchase our first home. When my husband and I got married in 2018, we made the mistake of saying, ‘Oh, we don't need to buy a house right away. We can wait’, and then COVID happened and all the housing prices skyrocketed up. Hopefully, the government will learn that reducing regulations and not increasing red tape will help Montanans thrive.”
Delays Increased the Cost of Hertz' Apartments by $50,000 per Unit
Hertz, a member of the Governor’s Housing Task Force, shared some of the hard facts of how delays drastically increased the price and therefore the rents at his new apartment complex.
“Part of it was a time frame issue,” said Hertz. “We purchased the land in late 2020, certainly hoping to break ground on it in 2021. Due to permitting, we weren't able to break ground until the spring of 2022. We finished it in the winter of 2023. In that time frame, building costs increased by about $50,000 per unit. So on a project like this, we spent $700,000, and that's a big significant increase. At the time, we saw rents skyrocket, so we were still able to make it work. And that's part of the reason why rents did skyrocket. These projects wouldn't have been able to happen if they didn't. So there were big changes in the last few years and hopefully, we can mitigate some of that through zoning reform.”
The governor has called on the legislature to send pro-housing reform bills to his desk and urged local and county governments to prioritize zoning reform.