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Montana politics, elections and legislative news.

House Passes Bill Banning Affordable Housing Requirement

Apartment complex. Stock photo.

The Montana House of Representatives has advanced a bill to prohibit zoning regulations requiring housing developers to sell units at below-market prices.

House Bill 259 would barr local governments from adopting so-called "inclusionary zoning rules." Aiming to increase the stock of affordable homes, these types of rules require a percentage of new houses be sold to low- or moderate-income buyers — sometimes into perpetuity. 

The bill passed a final vote in the House 64-35, with three Republicans joining Democrats in voting against it. 

The bill's sponsor, Republican Rep. Sue Vinton, noted that Bozeman and Whitefish already have this type of zoning in place.

“...despite the negative impact such an intrusive mandate has on the market, as well as cost-shifting to other properties," Vinton said.

Rep. Kelly Kortum, D-Bozeman, spoke in opposition to the bill, saying the lack of affordable housing has reached crisis levels across Montana. 

“The very least we can do on this issue is not make matters worse," he said.

HB 249 will move onto the Senate for consideration.

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