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Employers say Bozeman housing costs make hiring difficult

Posted at 5:00 PM, May 26, 2021

BOZEMAN — The restaurant industry, without a doubt, has been hit hard by this pandemic across the country, but Bozeman is dealing with that and another unique issue as well.

“I work at a brunch restaurant downtown. I’ve been working there for about four years,” said Bozeman resident Nathan Spackman.

The pandemic brought drastic changes, but for a lot of people it only added to the problem -- but it wasn’t the sole issue.

“I have lived in a few different places since moving out on my own, and each place has gotten progressively more and more expensive,” he explained.

To the point where the cost of housing in Bozeman is almost double the national average, which restaurant owners say is what’s hurting them the most.

“The pandemic has kind of put a spotlight over a longer-term issue that we’ve experienced in Bozeman. I feel that affordable housing has been a long-standing issue in the city of Bozeman," said multi-restaurant owner Aaron Parker.

Parker says it's challenging to hire employees when they can’t live here without having to work multiple jobs. And increasing the pay has a trickle effect: increasing menu prices, ultimately costing the consumer.

“It’s come to the point where we’ve discussed trying to invest in housing for our staff to live in. It’s getting to that point where we’ve got to get creative,” he said.

Because like in Spackman's situation, a lot of places are being bought and turned into new developments much more costly.

"I live in a two-bedroom apartment with my roommate, who is also in the service industry, and I pay $1,000 a month -- well, I don’t pay $1,000 per month. The rent is $1,000. We each pay $500. Honestly, now that someone has bought this plot of land and plans on developing it, I don’t think I’ll be able to afford to live in the apartments whatever they build. It’s going to be difficult to find another place,” he explained.

So many other former Bozeman residents were experiencing the same possibility, resulting in them having to move outside of Bozeman.