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Bills aimed at increasing Montana’s housing supply advance

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A group of bills that would change cities’ zoning regulations in order to increase housing supply are progressing through the state Legislature. The three bills draw on solutions proposed by the state’s housing task force created by Governor Greg Gianforte last summer.

The bills have won bipartisan support and are nearing the governor’s desk as other policies supported by Democrats to subsidize housing costs have failed to gain similar traction.

One of the advancing policies would allow for duplexes in areas of larger cities currently zoned solely for single family homes.

Ethan Hanley, with the University of Montana Students Association, said this legislation would help students struggling to find a place to live.

“This bill would allow, would allow a better housing type for students to live in, and would allow students to live closer to campus,” Hanley said.

Another bill, from Republican Billings Senator Daniel Zolnikov, aims to increase cities’ housing density by requiring local governments to allow multi-unit housing and mixed-use development.

“For every extra unit, you can add, quantities of scale, costs go down, supply goes up, we start actually talking about addressing this issue,” Zolnikov said.

Some local governments have come out against the policy saying it steps on their authority to run their towns.

The third advancing bill would require cities to create extensive land use plans to account for future population growth and the housing demands that will come with that.

Pending a final vote in the House this week, the bills will advance to the governor’s desk.

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