By Bay Stephens EBS LOCAL EDITOR
BIG SKY- On July 12, Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley and Big Sky School District, along with AmeriCorp volunteers, broke ground on the first-ever teacher housing project in Big Sky. The development will consist of two triplexes, providing six school-owned units on school district property.
“We’re excited to break ground on a groundbreaking accomplishment,” BSSD Superintendent Dustin Shipman said of the project; it’s the first time that Habitat has partnered with a school district to provide housing in Montana.
The project will help address ongoing struggles the school district faces, from losing teachers that commute from Bozeman—which comprises half of the school district’s workforce—after an average of four or five years, or the crisis that teachers renting in Big Sky face when landlords suddenly give them a month to clear out so the house or apartment can enter the short-term rental market.
Coming in at approximately $130,000 per unit, the school district plans to rent the triplexes below market value.
Habitat for Humanity Gallatin Valley was awarded $400,000 in Big Sky resort tax funding by the Big Sky Resort Area District board of directors in June specifically for the project. The development, which was estimated in March to cost approximately $900,000, was also funded by a $600,000 levy voted in by the community in May.
According to David Magistrelli, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Gallatin Valley, the first triplex should have exteriors finished by early October and be livable by late fall. Construction will begin on the second triplex as soon as possible spring 2020.
Magistrelli added that the project is about a month behind schedule at this point due to a combination of obtaining approval from the county and the respective homeowner association and the challenge of finding available contractors in Big Sky’s thriving building market.
“As soon as [the units are] done, we want teachers living in them,” Shipman told EBS. He said that teachers who choose to live alone would pay more than those that room with other school staff.
The school board is still determining many of the details concerning the units, Shipman said, such as reasonable occupancy per unit, rent costs and other factors. This dialogue will continue at their July 24 board meeting.