Today in Montana, renters and homeowners of all incomes struggle with rising housing costs, and the lowest income residents who rent their homes are hit the hardest. One in four renter households are considered extremely low-income (making less than 30 percent of the area median income) and the majority – a staggering 68 percent – pay rents that are unaffordable (upwards of 30 percent of their monthly income). Exacerbating the housing crisis is the shortage in available rental homes that are affordable for our lowest income residents. Montana would need to create an additional 16,467 rental homes in order to provide housing affordable for households at this income level.
The diminished federal role in funding housing programs has put more pressure on states and local jurisdictions to close the funding gap and build capacity to provide housing for residents, apart from federal funds. Yet Montana remains one of a handful of states to not spend state revenue and invest state resources in providing housing for its residents. Housing programs in the state are supported with federal funds, private and philanthropic dollars, and locally generated public revenues.
The state of Montana needs to provide sustainable revenue and programmatic support for housing if we are to make progress meeting the pervasive housing needs of the thousands of families and children who cannot afford a safe and quality place to live.
Our latest report, State and Local Strategies to Improve Housing Affordability, discusses three funding and policy tools that are supported with state and local public revenues being used in other states and cities across the country, and right here in Montana: Housing Trust Funds, Tax Increment Financing, and State Low Income Housing Tax Credits. Policymakers and community stakeholders can look to these case studies illustrating how each housing program has been implemented and best practices, as Montana progresses towards financing affordable housing policies that meet our own state-wide and local needs.
These policy and funding tools are only pieces of a larger comprehensive housing strategy. Addressing housing affordability requires sustained commitment of state and local public resources, as well as bringing together community stakeholders who best know the needs and capacity in their communities.
Read the report here.