MTPR

Whitefish Strategic Housing Plan

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

A Flathead County land use consulting company is suing the City of Whitefish, saying it violated Montana open meeting laws when it crafted its recently implemented affordable housing policy.

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Whitefish needs 1,000 new housing units by next year to keep up with demand. That’s according to a 2016 housing needs assessment that found that about 65 percent of workers commute to the small ski town. 

Downtown Whitefish, MT.
Josh Burnham / Montana Public Radio

Kate Berry says owning a house in Whitefish felt like a pipedream five years ago.

"We had searched for almost a year I guess, and everything that was in our price point was still out of our price point."

Berry pieced together a livable wage working full time for a nonprofit and waitressing at night. Her partner tended bar and rapped for a popular local band. But even together they couldn’t quite pull in enough for a down payment. Rentals kept falling through, and for a while, she says she wasn’t sure how her family could live and work in the town she grew up in.

The Whitefish strategic housing plan aims to keep rent and mortgage payments to less than 30 percent of household incomes.
Josh Burnham

Whitefish city counselors adopted an affordable house “roadmap” last night to tackle growing demand in the resort town.

Rent and mortgage rates have been outstripping average incomes in Whitefish for years, effectively forcing year-round workers, like teachers, cooks and firefighters, to look for housing outside the city where they work.