Missoula County signed a $30,000 contract with a Portland-based consulting firm to develop an affordable housing strategy, as the tightening market continues to squeeze both buyers and renters out.
The Missoula Board of Commissioners signed a $30,000 contract with EcoNorthwest. The Missoulian first reported the deal last week. The consulting firm will provide a report on the state of affordable housing in Missoula, along with a proposed plan to grow it.
Missoula County Grants and Community Programs Program Manager Melissa Gordon says the firm has worked with both rural and urban municipalities in the past, and that she spoke with leaders from those communities.
"They were just really, really impressed by their ability to gather input from a wide variety of voices in the community and balance those voices against political realities and funding realities."
She says they’ll shape a housing policy unique to Missoula County, which will coordinate efforts across the various departments that work with housing.
"But will also help us to define what an affordable housing strategy looks like for areas outside of Missoula."
The county also hired a housing specialist, who Gordon says will coordinate work across county departments and the consulting firm.
The move comes as Missoula’s apartment vacancy rate recently fell below one percent, when four percent is considered healthy, and the median house price recently hit $350,000.