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Affordable housing proposal presented to Missoula City Council

Posted at 9:15 AM, May 16, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-16 11:15:03-04

MISSOULA – A proposal presented to the Missoula City Council aims to build thousands of homes within city limits and make them affordable.

There’s a lot of interest in the city’s housing initiative, with a packed meeting room Wednesday as the city takes the wraps off a plan that’s been more than a year in development.

The plan, organized by the Missoula office of Housing and Community Development, aims to spur the addition of 6,500 housing units over the next decade. It focuses on inward growth centered around building near existing infrastructure and services, rather than spreading new growth across the valley.

The group has an eye on a few areas for redevelopment that already support existing structures. But nothing is set in stone.

“I think the largest fear that we’re hearing is that people are going to see the character of their neighborhood change dramatically and we want to make sure that people understand that no neighborhood is going to be asked to experience a dramatic change to support housing affordability and Missoula,” Missoula Office of Housing and Development Director Eran Pehan said.

Missoula Housing
A proposal presented to the Missoula City Council aims to build thousands of homes within city limits and make them affordable. (MTN News photo)

“But no neighborhood can be exempt from being a part of the solution as well so again that comes back to having conversations about what inclusivity and diversity means for each individual neighborhood and how they can be a part of the larger housing solution,” she added.

The plan also details the creation of an affordable housing trust fund and incentives to support affordable housing development and they are still exploring funding options for those.

It also aims to amend city code to include formal land use incentives for developing below market priced housing and update Accessory Dwelling Unit regulations.

Project consultant Daniel Werwath from Werwath Associates said these kinds of projects can be difficult and some situations that appear as solutions can prove to only make a situation worse.

“There are sorts of approaches that can have negative disruptive the fax and I think one of those that we looked at and it came up today in conversation was inclusionary zoning. Inclusionary zoning is one that is designed the wrong way can actually slow down building and exacerbate housing shortage,” Werwath explained.

So really in thinking about what we’re putting forward as policies proposals now they’re designed to really create a diversity of potential solutions to housing problems working on housing at different income levels different types of housing and strategies for everything from peoples backyards, to neighborhoods and undeveloped areas of town,” he continued.

According to the group, there will be a five-year comprehensive assessment after changes are implemented.