WHITEFISH - Whitefish community leaders, citizens and stakeholders have been drawing up an affordable housing plan for the city for the past six months.
The Whitefish Strategic Housing Plan will now be presented at a city council work session on Monday to get public input. The target group of the affordable housing will be people making anywhere from $40,000 to $75,000 per year.
City officials surveyed the area last year to see what the housing needs were through the Whitefish Area Housing Needs Assessment and the newly released plan took those needs into consideration to build a plan for the future.
The plan covers everything involved in the approach to the future of housing in Whitefish -- from the basic planning to housing tools available to recommended implementation strategies.
Whitefish City Manager Adam Hammatt says this plan has been in the process for a long time and is pleased that the city is addressing this important issue.
“Well, this plan has been a long time coming. I mean this is an issue that has plagued cities around the country. It is one we’ve had to deal with over the last couple of decades. And we’ve made some strides but just not enough," Hammatt said.
The housing assessment done last year estimated that the city was 660 houses down from where it should be and could be close to 1,000 houses by the year 2020.
Hammatt says the new plan gives the city an opportunity to work towards a problem before it grows any bigger, "so, what we were doing is great but it’s just not enough. So this plan is getting us to a point where we can start chewing away at the problem.”
One of the main issues that the plan is attempting to address is the struggles of local businesses that are having trouble finding workers because of the housing prices.
“Whitefish is a growing community and we want to make sure we grow wisely and making sure we have housing where the workforce can live right here close and avoid some of those commutes...it’s very important to a healthy community," Hammatt told MTN News.
Although this plan is very detailed, Hammatt says it really just the backbone to the future of housing in Whitefish.
“One thing to realize on this plan is to realize this is actually a plan to make more plans. It does kind of lay out some of the strategic initiatives and direction we want to go but there’s still a whole lot more work to be done," Hammatt said.
The public work session held on the Whitefish Strategic Housing Plan will take place from 5 p.m. until 7 p.m. on Monday at Whitefish City Hall.