Montana is currently experiencing a housing crisis. Since 2002, the price of homes has been rising significantly faster than median household income, causing many Montanans to be priced out of the housing market and struggle financially. When housing is unaffordable, entire communities are affected, but the most vulnerable face the greatest difficulties. The lack of affordable homes is not only hurting residents, but also hindering Montana’s post-pandemic economic recovery. The economy depends on a strong workforce, and the workforce depends on homes they can afford.
Montana lawmakers still have the chance to address this crisis by overriding Governor Gianforte’s veto of HB 397, a state-level low-income housing tax credit that involves the private sector and is projected to double the number of homes and apartments constructed over five years. It expands the federal Low-Income Housing program, created by the Reagan Administration. It would build 1,000 more apartments and create $220 million in construction, 2,900 new jobs, and $117 million in construction wages. This bill passed with large margins in the legislature this spring.
Bills similar to HB 397 have been very successful in other states. Colorado has seen more than 19,000 jobs created, $465 million in private-sector investment, and more than $1.5 billion of economic activity generated, as well as access to affordable homes for workers. Lawmakers have until June 25th to submit their polling responses on overriding the Governor’s veto. We should all urge our lawmakers to make this bill a law for the good of all of Montana