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Bozeman’s Newest Affordable Housing Moves Forward As Need Remains High

Construction on Bozeman’s newest affordable housing project begins this week. There’s a waitlist of 200 individuals and families.

At a three-acre plot of land in northwest Bozeman, City Commissioner Terry Cunningham addresses a group of affordable housing advocates and community leaders Wednesday afternoon.

"The American dream, I think, has a catch-phrase, and that is 'I’m home,'" Cunningham says. "Home is where we ground ourselves, and a home is where we put down roots; it’s where we build our stories, and it’s where we make a lifetime of memories."

This is the site of Willow Springs Townhomes — a new $6.5 million development that will include 24 units for households making between $30,000 and $40,000 dollars a year. That’s about 70 percent of the city’s median income.

The non-profit organization Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) is developing the project under the community land trust model to make sure homes remain affordable past the first sale. That means a homeowner can only sell a unit close to the original, subsidized price rather than the market price.

Heather Grenier is HRDC’s CEO and president. She says the need for affordable housing is a big challenge for this community.

"We have, I think, more than 200 families on the waitlist that are ready, that have gone through homebuyer education, have been determined eligible and are excited to see this come off the ground as well," Grenier says.

Grenier says the Bozeman housing market has gone up about eight percent over the last year. The median sale price of a home in Bozeman is over $400,000. A two- or three-bedroom Willow Springs townhouse will be less than a quarter of a million.

Grenier says the project has had several delays, mostly due to building costs.

"We actually had it out to bid a year ago, and the costs came in too high. We had to wait and find some additional funding sources to be able to make it happen. So it’s finally all come together. Final plat’s done; building permits are drawn, and we’re really excited to move forward and actually make some affordable homes," says Grenier.

Willow Springs Townhomes was largely financed through recycled funding from a federal grant awarded to Gallatin County, which then contracted with HRDC to work on affordable housing projects. The City of Bozeman agreed in July to assist with $240,000 through its housing fund.

Families have been selected for the first 12 units, which are slated to be completed April 2020.