Montana Governor Greg Gianforte launched the Montana Housing Task Force on Friday with the goal of making housing attainable and affordable for all Montanans.

KGVO News reached out to Governor Gianforte for details on the task force and what he hopes it will accomplish.

“As I travel the state it comes up in virtually every community; housing has gotten too expensive,” said Gianforte. “This is really central to the American dream. You look at the numbers at a macro level and it’s very simple. Demand has outstripped supply we have lots of people moving in, so it’s making it harder and harder for working families to get into a home. We want to get to the bottom of this. That's why we've put together a very broad group on this task force.”

Four of the task force members hail from Missoula, including state legislators Ellie Boldman and Danny Tannenbaum, UM Director of the Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Dr. Patrick Barkey, and Adam Hertz, secretary of the Montana Board of Housing.

Gianforte was clear in his mission statement to the task force.

“I've charged the task force with coming up with specific recommendations to make housing more affordable and attainable for Montana, and it's probably going to include changes to the law, changes to state agencies, reforms and best practices local governments can implement just across the board changes, in order to make homeownership more attainable for more people,” he said.

KGVO asked Gianforte how he planned to get past the economic law of supply and demand, and he said he would ask the task force to reduce expensive regulations.

“Supply and demand are like gravity; you can't fight it,” he said. “What we need to do is increase supply. One of the things we learned in doing the research on this is that regulations currently account for about 25 percent of the final price on a single-family home, so we can attack regulations.”

Gianforte has asked the task force to split up the various difficulties facing housing for Montanans and get the group to work together to address them.

“So I've asked the Chair, Chris Durrington, to break the suggestions in the sections, whether that's regulatory relief, streamlining, permitting, zoning, incentives, and other ideas. Let's get all the good ideas on the table. And I think by working together, we can come up with solutions that are actionable and makes housing more attainable for more people.”

KGVO News asked Gianforte what he hopes to accomplish with the housing task force.

“I hope that any working family in Montana has access to an affordable rental or an affordable home to buy and we know that renting is really a stepping stone to owning,” he said. “I'd like to think that is an integral part of the American dream, and I want to see that dream more attainable for more Montanans.”

Between 2010 and 2020 Montana grew in population by just under 10 percent, but unfortunately, that far outpaced the state’s housing unit growth of 6.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

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