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Gianforte Launches Housing Task Force

Montana Gov. Greg Gianforte has launched a housing task force to provide recommendations to make housing more affordable and attainable for Montanans.

“Owning a home is part of the American dream, but for more than a decade, it’s become harder and harder for Montanans to afford to own or rent a home,” Gianforte said. “Burdensome, restrictive, and unnecessary regulations have left Montana with a longstanding shortage of housing that continues to drive up the prices Montanans pay for their home.”

“It’s critical we increase Montanans’ access to affordable, attainable housing, which is why today I launched a housing task force to get to the bottom of the problem and provide solutions to get us out of it,” Gianforte continued.

The governor created the task force through an executive order. The governor charged the task force with providing recommendations the legislature could consider and the governor could sign into law to make housing more affordable and attainable. Gianforte also charged the task force with developing recommendations state agencies can implement administratively as well as recommendations and best practices local jurisdictions can enact.

Gianforte appointed Chris Dorrington, director of the Department of Environmental Quality, to chair the task force.

“In traveling the state, one consistent message I hear is about the significant housing challenges facing Montanans,” Dorrington said. “I am honored the governor has asked me to step forward to lead a great team in developing awareness and common-sense recommendations to address these challenges.”

“I’m grateful to each member of the housing task force, from the bipartisan group of legislators to stakeholders to experts to advocates for reform. I know each of them will bring a strong voice and unique perspective to the task force. I look forward to what they will accomplish,” Gianforte concluded.

The first meeting of the task force was scheduled for Wednesday, July 20.

Between 2010 and 2020, Montana’s population grew by 9.6 percent, outpacing the state’s housing unit growth of 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Driven by increased consumer demand, rising inflation, and national supply chain breakdowns, the cost of building a new home has soared, with private residential construction costs skyrocketing 18.4 percent nationally between March 2021 and March 2022, according to the Census Bureau.

Regulations at every level of government drive up the price of newly built homes. The National Association of Home Builders estimated in 2021 that the average cost of regulation in the price of a new home soared by 44 percent in the last decade, from $65,224 in 2011 to $93,870 in 2021. NAHB also reported that government-imposed regulations account for 23.8 percent of the final price of a new single-family home built for sale.

The rental vacancy rate in Montana, a key measure of whether housing supply is meeting demand, fell from 5.7 percent in 2010 to 4.4 percent in 2020, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.

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