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Gov. Gianforte extends Housing Task Force

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By Daily Montanan Staff DAILY MONTANAN

Gov. Greg Gianforte on Thursday extended his housing task force through June 2025, citing in part the continued lack of affordable workforce housing in Montana and private residential construction costs “skyrocketing” 18.4% in just one year. 

“While we’ve made great progress to increase the supply of affordable, attainable housing for Montanans, there’s more work to do, and we’re not done yet,” Gianforte said in a statement. “I look forward to our Housing Task Force continuing to develop more commonsense solutions to address one of the most pressing issues facing hardworking Montanans.”

State agency leaders, legislators, local officials, association representatives, economists, researchers, stakeholders, and advocates make up the task force, which Department of Environmental Quality Director Chris Dorrington leads. It wasn’t immediately clear if the Governor’s Office would retain original task force members, appoint new ones, or some combination.

A news release from his office said the governor, a Republican, launched the diverse, bipartisan Housing Task Force in July 2022. Citing Pew Charitable Trust research, his executive order identifies strict zoning rules and other regulations as problematic and a reason for extending the work of the group.

The governor’s task force produced two reports last year that identified problems it considered to be at the root of the state’s housing shortage and provided solutions that could be implemented administratively or through changes to law, according to the news release.

The task force’s recommendations provided a roadmap for lawmakers ahead of the 2023 legislative session, leading to the “historic pro-housing reforms” adopted in Montana that some have dubbed the “Montana Miracle,” the news release said.

A Republican supermajority controlled the legislature this year, and at the end of the session, Democrats said lawmakers should have done more to address the housing crisis in Montana and had shorted renters in particular.

“The majority provided no immediate solutions to the housing crisis, no relief for renters,” said Senate Minority Leader Pat Flowers, D-Belgrade, in a statement after the session also criticizing the lack of investment in working families despite an historic $2 billion surplus.

The executive order from the governor notes one culprit to affordability is the increasing costs of regulations. It said “government-imposed regulations account for 23.8% of the final price” of a home, citing the National Association of Home Builders.

It also said a drop in the rental vacancy rate in Montana from 5.7% in 2010 to 4.4% in 2020 is contributing to the increase in rental prices and notes “median rent prices have risen rapidly.”

In the news release Thursday, the Governor’s Office listed at least 10 laws legislators passed and Gianforte signed, “delivering on task force recommendations” and including the Land Use and Planning Act. 

The full text of the governor’s executive order continuing the housing task force may be found here.

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