Archive for January 4th, 2010

by jhwygirl

I don’t write about affordable housing enough, although some of you might disagree. It can’t be overstated, though, and having affordable housing in any community is key to facilitating economic growth and development.

Missoula is going to continue to have a hell of a time attracting good paying sustainable jobs until such time that it has entry level ownership opportunities for entry-level professionals. This is all the more important with the closure of Smurfit.

I mention this because the Gallatin County Commissioners will be deciding on Tuesday whether to accept a $7 million grant that would go to the Human Resource Development Council (HRDC) for a housing development that will service those making 50% of the median income.

Now, apparently, the teabaggers have gotten wind of this grant – the application of which was approved by this very same county commission this past May in a 2-1 vote – and there is pressure on one of the commissioners (one who, by chance, happens to be up for election) to vote “no” on accepting the grant.

Blame it on – seriously, I’m not joking – the irrepressible (and apparently irresponsible) Scott Sales (who is hinting that running for said county commission seat just might be in his future).

It’s amazing to me how shortsighted these teabagger-types can be. Turning this grant down is going to put greater pressure on an already overpriced housing market. Not only that, it is going to make finding employees for the large number of service-related jobs harder and harder.

Because – and I know this is a hard concept for teabaggers to understand since they don’t do much more than soundbites – Montana isn’t dropping in median housing costs like a whole hell of a lot of the rest of America. We’ve been lucky – just ask any realtor – in that the housing market here in Montana (and even less so in places like Missoula and Bozeman) hasn’t been greatly affected by the downturn.

It’s pretty basic: Businesses can’t run without employees. Affordable employees. Simple concept, really.

So why does Scott Sales and his teabagger friends hate small business?

Having decent housing for these service-related jobs – jobs a community can’t do without – ensure that the market housing maintains as much semblance of affordability as is possible. This grant is for those making less than 50% of the median income.

The median income for a household in Bozeman is $45,000…which makes 50% of median a full-time $10.00/job.

Thing is – few will say that housing in Bozeman is affordable, right?

Which is probably where Scott sales comes in. It’s sheer lunacy – Scott Sales-type lunacy – to turn this money down. It’ll go somewhere (and I bet Missoula or Helena or Great Falls would be glad to take it) – and with it will go a more stable pro-business economy to whatever community gets it.

There are people and businesses in Bozeman and Gallatin County that are counting on the county commission – at least the 2 that had the pro-business common sense to approve the application – to have the pro-business common sense again to accept the grant.

That is, of course, unless everyone wants to start having to pay more for all those sorts of things that employee $10/hour employees – banks and universities and restaurants and conveniece stores and box stores and local main street stores. Hell – I’m betting the county itself employs quite a number of people that make around $10/hour.

But don’t worry Scott Sales and Gallatin County teabaggers – when the county has to hire another roadworker or police officer or office assistant, and they cost more because the cost of a basic need (housing) just went up, they’ll just pass that bill onto you – the taxpayer.

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by jhwygirl

Well. The state has a very nifty website on Montana’s stimulus funding. It’s very easy to see how much is being spent and where it’s being spent. $123,000,000, for example, being spent in Missoula County.

Quite helpful. Great website.




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