The housing crisis in Bozeman is a problem that community leaders have been trying to solve for years. Now, with the creation of a new community fund, they hope it will provide solutions to a crisis that has challenged area residents.
“I don’t want to live in a community that’s a… where it’s just a resort community for the super-rich. It’s not what Bozeman is, it’s not our roots, it’s not where we want to be,” Bozeman Deputy Mayor Terry Cunningham said.
Cunningham says it’s hard to see house prices continue to soar.
“It’s frustrating for the city because we have so few tools to get the workforce housing projects off the ground,” Cunningham said.
With this new fund goal of $10 million, leaders are beginning to see light at the end of the tunnel.
“Housing prices got away from us a bit, rent affordability a bit, so we started talking a bit more about an investment fund that would help solve some of the problems that we are having,” said the President. and CEO of First Security Bank, Jim Ness.
For Ness, housing affordability is an issue his employees struggle with. This is one of the reasons why the bank is committed to contributing the first million dollars to the fund.
“As I talk to my employees and hear some of their situations, I hear things like having 3 roommates, 4 roommates, 6 roommates, maybe sharing a room with someone. I think the quality life is a challenge,” says Ness.
This is what inspired Ness to approach Deputy Mayor Cunningham with the idea of collaborating and creating a discovery aimed at tackling housing affordability in the Gallatin Valley.
The fund aims to help workforce housing projects get started and provide funds to fill the funding gap. Part of the fund will also help to obtain home loans. Leaders hope this investment in the community will inspire more people to put down roots in the Gallatin Valley.
“Private businesses, bankers and other community partners are stepping up and contributing to this fund, sends a great message to the community that we’re in this together,” Cunningham said.
They say a healthy workforce is the foundation of a city like Bozeman.
“If we don’t have an active workforce and I believe workforce housing is a barrier to that right now and I want to help and address that,” Ness said.
Even with all the construction, Ness says a piece of the puzzle is missing.
“There’s a lot of construction going on in Bozeman right now and there’s a lot of apartments going on, which is great, and there’s a need for that too, but the area I see for that need is for this category of affordability,” he said.
Ness and Cunningham are optimistic about mobilizing community support to tackle a community-wide issue.
“It’s definitely not the silver bullet that’s going to do it, but I think it’s part of the solution,” Ness said.