MARKET WATCH MINUTE – brought to you by Sterling CRE Advisors
Highlights from “Our Development Guide, Looking Forward 2018-2028”
presented by Nick Kaufman, Land Use Planner, WGM Group, Inc.
What an exciting time to consider investing in Missoula. In this Market Watch segment, I discussed a broad range of topics centered on issues of interest to the development community. One of the themes in that presentation was “What is New in the City of Missoula” and drilling down even further revealed “The City of Missoula Housing Policy”.
For several years, the City of Missoula has been developing a housing policy. There have been five updates since August of 2018 and the housing policy was released to the public with a presentation to the City Council on May 15 and May 22. This is an exciting document and you can find out more at the housing policy website: Missoula Housing Policy
Here are some highlights about the study:
- The City of Missoula Housing Policy is intended to be a cohesive policy and program approach within the city to minimize barriers to affordable housing and provide financial incentives, where possible, to promote the production and preservation of affordable, diverse, healthy, and safe homes.
- The Housing Policy Vision is, “Homes Build Strong Communities”
- Safe and healthy homes are the foundation of childhood educational success.
- A diversity of home types and affordability levels allow for a robust and thriving local economy.
- Safe and healthy homes support individual and community health.
- Access to homes we can afford enables our citizens to improve their circumstances and thrive in our community.
There are any number of opportunities to learn about the housing with several open houses planned:
- May 30, 2019 from 11:00am – 1:00pm in City Council Chambers (140 W. Pine St.)
- June 4, 2019 from 6:30 – 8:30pm at the Russell School Cafeteria (3216 S. Russell St.)
- Public Hearing on Housing Policy, June 24 at 7:00pm in City Council Chambers (140 W. Pine St.)
There is a link on the Missoula Housing Policy website that allows you to submit comments electronically.
With the Housing Policy, the city also released “Our Missoula Development Guide, Looking Forward 2018 – 2028” – Here are some of the highlights of the Development Guide:
- The population of Missoula has been growing at a rate of 1–2% over the past ten years. The report is intended more definitively identify locations within the study area that have capacity for quality living opportunities.
- There is enough capacity in the Urban Services Area for the 6,500 new dwelling units expected over the next ten years.
- An expected 216 units per year will develop on Entitled Lots, while 434 units annually should be directed into areas that are more suitable.
- There are over 2,000 vacant lots (not entitled) located in areas considered “Fairly Suitable” or better.
- Better utilizing densities as allowed by land use could add an additional 5,000 units to what is allowed by current zoning.
Here is a high level summary of the issues:
- The Missoula Community continues to look to the future and plan our destiny. As a community, we protect, promote and invest in our quality of life. Affordable housing is a foundational metric of quality of life.
- We need affordable workforce housing to retain and attract our quality workforce. American Community Survey data indicates that about 24% or our workforce or 17,000 workers live outside of Missoula County. Clearly, the portion of our workforce that wants to work and live in Missoula County and more particularly, the urban area ought to have the opportunity for affordable housing or home ownership.
- In developing the Housing Policy, it is clear that there was outreach and the drafters did listen to the community and stakeholders.
- We hope The Housing Policy becomes an overarching policy as the departments of the city review development proposals.
- While the Housing Policy and Our Missoula Development Guide indicate that we have suitable and capable area to grow, the affordable housing component needs a boost.
- The community working together with local government addressing the issue of affordable housing will make the biggest difference.
- Look to the proposed Housing Trust Fund concept in the Housing Policy as an innovative thought.
- The community needs to engage in the conversation we are all, owners and renters affected by the policies
- The issues of infrastructure as a significant component of affordable housing need a continuing discussion.
- If having a home is a current or future concern, please engage in the conversation
Organizations like the Missoula Building Industry Association, the Missoula Organization of Realtors and the Missoula Area Chamber of Commerce will be reviewing the Housing Policy in early summer. If you are a member of one of these organizations, you can participate through those organizations.