HELENA — Gov. Greg Gianforte has announced a new state housing task force, charged with recommending ways 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 in a statement Thursday. “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.”
Gianforte issued an executive order (https://news.mt.gov/Governors-Office/_documents/EO-5-2022-Establishing-Housing-Advisory-Council.pdf) creating the Housing Advisory Council. He tasked them with providing recommendations for the Montana Legislature, state agencies and local governments.
Montana Department of Environmental Quality director Chris Dorrington will chair the task force. Gianforte named 25 other members, including lawmakers from both parties, local government leaders, housing advocates, developers, business leaders and researchers.
“I know each of them will bring a strong voice and unique perspective to the task force,” he said in his statement. “I look forward to what they will accomplish.”
The task force will hold its first meeting on Wednesday, July 20.
The executive order highlights multiple statistics that show the housing pressure across the state. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Montana’s population grew 9.6% from 2010 to 2020, but the number of housing units only grew by 6.6% over that period. The state’s rental vacancy rate fell from 5.7% in 2010 to 4.4% in 2020, according to the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.
The state also said inflation, supply chain issues and government regulations are contributing to rising costs of building homes. They pointed to Census Bureau data saying residential construction costs increased 18.4% nationally from March 2021 to March 2022, and to a National Association of Home Builders report that said regulations accounted for 23.8% of the price of a new single-family home.