A Place to Call Home: Meeting Missoula's Housing Needs

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A Place to Call Home housing policy cover art; city scene with parks and playground

Missoula's City Council adopted "A Place to Call Home" in June of 2019. This citywide housing policy proposes over two dozen individual strategies to address increasing housing costs in Missoula. As the City works through implementation of these specific policies and programs, we want to keep in touch with the community and continually get your feedback. Leave your thoughts on this page about housing in Missoula, respond to quick polls, and check back for updates on the policy implementation.

Background

In the past several years, Missoula has seen remarkable growth in its economy and population. This growth and vitality, however, has brought challenges. Home prices have steadily increased in recent years, outpacing wage growth and causing many Missoulians to find it challenging to afford safe and healthy homes. From young families to retirees, more than half of Missoulians can’t afford to participate in the increasingly expensive housing market.

Missoula's citywide housing policy proposes a fundamental shift in how housing is prioritized within the City of Missoula, as well as a commitment to long-term funding of housing initiatives. Collectively, the recommendations contained in the policy compose a thorough strategy that will support the market while ensuring long-term affordability and preservation. The housing policy recognizes that neighborhoods have unique needs and that as we grow as a community we must develop thoughtfully, in a way that is sustainable and equitable, while maintaining community quality. Throughout this growth, no neighborhood should be asked to experience radical change. Consequently, no neighborhood should be exempt from change either.


Missoula's City Council adopted "A Place to Call Home" in June of 2019. This citywide housing policy proposes over two dozen individual strategies to address increasing housing costs in Missoula. As the City works through implementation of these specific policies and programs, we want to keep in touch with the community and continually get your feedback. Leave your thoughts on this page about housing in Missoula, respond to quick polls, and check back for updates on the policy implementation.

Background

In the past several years, Missoula has seen remarkable growth in its economy and population. This growth and vitality, however, has brought challenges. Home prices have steadily increased in recent years, outpacing wage growth and causing many Missoulians to find it challenging to afford safe and healthy homes. From young families to retirees, more than half of Missoulians can’t afford to participate in the increasingly expensive housing market.

Missoula's citywide housing policy proposes a fundamental shift in how housing is prioritized within the City of Missoula, as well as a commitment to long-term funding of housing initiatives. Collectively, the recommendations contained in the policy compose a thorough strategy that will support the market while ensuring long-term affordability and preservation. The housing policy recognizes that neighborhoods have unique needs and that as we grow as a community we must develop thoughtfully, in a way that is sustainable and equitable, while maintaining community quality. Throughout this growth, no neighborhood should be asked to experience radical change. Consequently, no neighborhood should be exempt from change either.


  • Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee Seated!

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    The twelve-member Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee was established following the interview and appointment process that spanned nine weeks. Appointments were made by the Mayor, City Council and The County Board of Commissioners and concluded the week of May 17th. 44 Missoula-area residents applied for a spot on the committee and 33 applicants scheduled or completed interviews with the four-member subcommittee of the Committee of the Whole comprised of City Council Vice President Gwen Jones, Councilmember Mirtha Becerra, Councilmember Julie Merritt and Missoula County Commissioner Josh Slotnick.

    The Oversight Committee is an important part of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, adopted by City Council on July 20, 2020. The committee will create funding policies and priorities to impact affordable housing development for years to come. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is an ongoing funding source to meet affordable housing needs and community goals. The committee which consists of a near even split of owners and renters and whose members represent a broad range of identities and experiences will begin their tenure by reviewing and adopting the Administrative Policies and Procedures for the Fund this summer. Councilmember Jones, who chaired the interview subcommittee reflected, "We had many wonderful applicants for the Oversight Committee. Missoulians really stepped up and were willing to serve to better their community. The people chosen to serve on this committee are diverse in many ways, and bring great energy and positive attitudes to this position."

    The Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee meets monthly on the second Wednesday of each month from 6-8pm on Zoom. Meetings are public and can be streamed on the City’s YouTube channel. Information about the Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee can be found on the committee page.


    Brief committee member bios are below:

    Laura Bird is an enrolled member of the Blackfeet Nation and has resided in the Missoula community since June 1999. Laura is a single mother of 4 beautiful children, and works as the Eligibility Specialist for All Nations Health Center she enjoys outdoor adventuring and roller skating in her free time! Laura is happy to be on committee and appreciates the opportunity!

    Mistee Brown When she’s not running, hiking, or otherwise admiring the Montana mountain ranges, Mistee is striving to promote the self-actualization of those the around her. She is thrilled to implement this value strategically while working on the Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee.

    Katie Carlson has a background in Real Estate. In addition to being the Supervising Broker at Soula Realty she also has a law degree and a certificate in alternative dispute resolution. She is excited to join the committee and looks forward to working toward a solution for attainable housing.

    Lori Davidson is the Executive Director of the Missoula Housing Authority, a high-performing, forward-thinking public housing agency. She has worked with MHA for 26 years first as finance officer, then deputy director, assuming her current position as executive director in 2007. During her tenure, the Housing Authority has used a wide range of funding mechanisms to increase the number of low-income housing subsidies and homes people can afford from 625 to 1,644. Lori received the Lifetime Champion of Housing award at the 2019 Montana Housing Partnership/Mountain Plains NAHRO Conference.

    John Engen became Missoula's fiftieth mayor on January 3, 2006. He served a four-year term as a City Council member representing Ward 1 before winning the city-wide election for mayor in 2005. Before entering public service, Engen worked for about 15 years professionally in the newspaper business in his hometown. A Missoula native, Engen graduated from Hellgate High School and The University of Montana, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism. Engen has served on a number of volunteer boards and is past president of the Missoula Downtown Association, Young Audiences of Western Montana and the Missoula Food Bank.

    Paul Herendeen is the Director of Impact Market Development at Clearwater Credit Union, where he works to develop products, services, and relationships to support just and equitable economic development.

    Riley Jacobsen works on The Homeless Outreach Team at The Poverello Center and, when he’s not working, he enjoys creating music that has a lasting positive message. He has spent a significant amount of time working in the and seeks to bring results to those he serves with clear intentions and a compassionate engagement. It is a great honor to be confirmed to The Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee as this is a wonderful opportunity to bring his expertise where we can share ideas to better serve the community of Missoula as a whole.

    Christine Littig is a married mother of two. The successes and failures she has experienced to date have shaped her commitment to family, friends, community and civic engagement. "I used to run, but I value walking. Walking, for me, supports thoughtful decision making, creates opportunity to say hello to Missoula neighbors, and allows reflection on what I remember Missoula being like, what it is now, and imagination around what it could be."

    Will Sebern brings years of experience in housing and community development in a variety of roles including experiences as both a grantor and grantee of housing development funds as well as local housing trust funds, HOME, CDBG, and private philanthropy. He has a track record of community-informed decision-making as a community organizer, executive director and city grants administrator and financial acumen required for feasibility analyses for both rental and home owner development initiatives.

    Gerri Stiffarm was born and raised in Havre, MT and is an enrolled member of the WhiteClay Tribe of Fort Belknap. She and her family moved to Missoula in 2013. She has a background in Community Service and Communication from MSU-Northern. She currently works for St. Patrick Hospital and cares for her family in her spare time.

    In 2009, after a long drive from Stillwater, Oklahoma, Heidi West found home in Missoula’s Northside neighborhood. She raises food and a family, turns pots at the Clay Studio of
    Missoula, and is almost finished with an extensive reinvention of the family’s 1900 home. For several years, Heidi was in the role of Land Stewardship Program Coordinator for the North-Missoula Community Development Corporation, and recently transitioned to focusing solely on Project Westside Park. She also holds elected office as Ward 1 City Council Representative.

    Bobbie Weston has been a Missoula resident for 8 years and in that time has come to cherish our Community. She has worked hard to break the cycle of homelessness and has a passion for helping others do the same.

  • Help Strengthen Administrative Policies for the Trust Fund

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    We want to hear from you!

    The Community Development Division of Community Planning, Development & Innovation is asking for input on the draft Administrative Policies for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Your feedback is key to strengthening the version that will go to the Affordable Housing Resident Oversight Committee later this summer for final approval. The Administrative Policies will impact who can apply for funds, what projects are supported, and who benefits from the Trust Fund. Please share your feedback on the policies by Tuesday, June 1, 2021.

    Ask questions, share your thoughts, or fill out a survey on the Administrative Policies page! After you have provided feedback, make sure to enter your email address for a chance to win a $25 gift card to Missoula Fresh Market.


  • A Place to Call Home: Implementation Update February 2021

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    On February 17, 2021, the Community Development Division provided an informational update to City Council’s Administration and Finance Committee. Many challenges within the Missoula housing market and future actionable steps to address these problems were presented:


    Challenges

    • Renters face a vacancy rate that has remained below a stable threshold of 5% for the last 5 years.
    • 48% of renters in Missoula spend more than 30% of their income on rent.
    • The median home sale price continues to outpace wage increases year after year, placing home ownership out of reach for many Missoulians.
    • Household mobility slowed significantly during the pandemic and the rental vacancy rate neared zero at times over the past year. This has placed significant pressure on local home prices to increase.


    Our Response

    These challenges occur across the State of Montana. It is important to have conversations at the State level about how to manage the housing market statewide. This includes conversations about:

    • State and local revenue sources to support affordable housing
    • State level regulations that slow down housing development
    • Montana's ability leverage federal dollars and distribute funds into communities


    Implementation

    There are over two dozen specific policy recommendations to improve housing affordability in Missoula. These policies work to:

    • Track data and analyze progress to better understand the housing market
    • Leverage existing funding resources to support housing
    • Reduce barriers and promote access to affordable homes
    • Partner to create and preserve affordable homes


    What’s Next?

    In the coming months, the Community Development Division will continue to implement new elements of the housing policy recommendations including:

    • Introduction of the funding cycle for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund
    • Development of the Affordable Housing Incentives Program
    • Reconvene the Public/Private Housing Finance Work Group
    • Continue to track and report


    Click here to view the slides from the presentation or watch the presentation here!


  • Affordable Housing Citizen Oversight Committee Member Recruitment

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    Do you Want to Influence Affordable Housing Development in Missoula?

    The Community Development Division of Community Planning, Development & Innovation is recruiting members for the Affordable Housing Citizen Oversight Committee. The Oversight Committee is an important component of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, adopted by City Council on July 20, 2020. The committee will create funding policies and priorities to impact affordable housing development for years to come. The Affordable Housing Trust Fund is an ongoing funding source to meet affordable housing needs and community goals.


    Recruitment for members is open from Wednesday, January 6, 2021 through Wednesday, February 10, 2021 at 5pm.

    Key role and application details are included below, visit the committee page for the full role description.


    Citizen Oversight Committee Role:

    The Citizen Oversight Committee will oversee key functions of the Trust Fund. Key Functions include approving the administrative policies and the annual Allocation Plan. The Citizen Oversight Committee will not make funding decisions for every project supported by the Trust Fund.


    Membership Structure and Appointment Process:

    Affordable Housing Citizen Oversight Committee Membership includes 11 total members:

    • Nine (9) voting members
    • Two (2) alternates
    • Three voting members include:
      1. The mayor or designee
      2. The president of City Council or designee
      3. Executive director of Missoula Housing Authority or designee
    • Three (3) community members
      1. Two (2) community members who are currently or have within the last two years received some form of help in securing their housing
    • One (1) representative from a housing non-profit
    • One (1) representative from the field of housing or real estate
    • One (1) representative from the field of banking and/or finance

    Alternate members do not vote, they participate in committee discussions and share perspective.


    How to Apply:

    Missoula area residents of all skill and knowledge backgrounds should apply. Community Planning, Development & Innovation staff will work with new members to support successful orientation.


    Applicants have several options for submitting an application:

    1. Apply online
    2. Download application (PDF) Drop off* or mail a hard copy (hand-written or typed) to City Clerk, 435 Ryman Street, Missoula, MT. 59802
    3. Email completed application to CityClerk@ci.missoula.mt.us
    4. Submit a verbal application if you are unable to complete a written application. Contact Emily Harris-Shears, harris-shearse@ci.missoula.mt.us or (406) 552-6394.

    Applications in all formats are due by 5:00 p.m. on Wednesday, February 10, 2021.


    *Please note the City Clerk Office is currently closed to the public. There is a drop box located at the entrance to City Hall where you can place materials.

    Contact Emily Harris-Shears with questions, harris-shearse@ci.missoula.mt.us or (406) 552-6394.

  • Invitation for Community Meeting

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    The Community Development Division of Community Planning, Development & Innovation invites you to a virtual community meeting on Wednesday, January 6, 2021 from 6-7:30pm to hear updates on planning for the Affordable Housing Trust Fund following City Council’s adoption in July 2020, including the upcoming selection process for the Affordable Housing Citizen Oversight Committee. Community members are invited to join to learn more and share feedback on the planning and process to date.

    Please contact Emily Harris-Shears, harris-shearse@ci.missoula.mt.us or 406.552.6394 with questions.

    Affordable Housing Trust Fund Community Meeting

    Date: Wednesday, January 6, 2021

    Time: 6:00-7:30 PM

    Location: https://ci-missoula-mt.zoom.us/j/82587022740?pwd=VmFETnAxVDRVWkQxTWZVUmRUSU5nUT09

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  • Invitation for Community Working Group

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    On Monday, July 20, 2020 City Council adopted the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Ordinance and Funding Commitments Resolution. A primary implementation goal of the Affordable Housing Trust Fund is to seat the Citizen Oversight Committee, infused with community participation.

    The Community Development Division of Community Planning, Development & Innovation is seeking 7-10 community members to join an ad hoc working group to review and finalize the application and recommend interview questions for the Citizen Oversight Committee appointment process. The working group will meet 2-3 times via Zoom in December to accomplish two primary tasks. The group will review and approve the application and develop a slate of recommended interview questions. These products will be provided to the elected officials who will make Affordable Housing Citizen Oversight Committee appointments.

    To avoid conflicts of interest, community members interested in joining the ad hoc working group may not apply for the Citizen Oversight Committee.

    If you’re interested in participating in this working group please contact Emily Harris-Shears, by Tuesday, December 1, 2020 at 5pm. Working group members will be added in order of contact until maximum participation of ten (10) participants is reached.

    Emily Harris-Shears

    Affordable Housing Trust Fund Administrator

    Harris-shearse@ci.missoula.mt.us

    (406) 552-6394

  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund Administrator Hired

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    Emily Harris-Shears joined the Office of Housing & Community Development on October 26 as the City's Affordable Housing Trust Fund Administrator. Emily will lead the formation of the trust fund, including establishing administrative policies, forming the Citizen Oversight Committee, and piloting the allocation of funds. Emily has a background in working with federal, state, and local systems to find innovative solutions to homelessness and affordable housing challenges. She received her Masters of Social Work with an emphasis in Policy, Advocacy, and Community from Arizona State University. She is excited to join the team and get to work helping to increase affordable housing in Missoula.

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  • Affordable Housing Trust Fund Adopted!

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    On Monday, July 20, 2020 City Council adopted the Affordable Housing Trust Fund Ordinance and Funding Commitments Resolution. For more details see the City Council Action Summary here. Stay tuned to this project page for more implementation updates from A Place to Call Home!

  • Give us your thoughts on the Affordable Housing Trust fund! Public Hearing closes Monday, July 20th.

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    City Council opened a one-week public hearing starting on Monday. July 13th. This hearing, which closes on Monday, July 20th, adds to the more than a month of conversations with the public about the proposed Affordable Housing Trust Fund. Comment here on this thread, or check out City Council's Citizen Participation Guide for other ways to give us your thoughts.

  • Remember to provide your comments on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund by July 17th!

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    City Council is holding a public hearing on the Affordable Housing Trust Fund ordinance and resolution on Monday, July 13th. All public hearings remain open for one week before final Council action. Remember to provide your comments here on Engage Missoula by Friday, July 17th. You can watch the public meeting online. Find more information here!

Page last updated: 22 September 2020, 14:11