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BOZEMAN - Residents and officials came together in Bozeman on Tuesday to address one of the most severe issues facing the state’s fastest growing city: affordable housing.

It was the second chance for residents to share their thoughts on the city’s Community Housing Action Plan.

Bozeman’s incredible growth – with tens of thousands expected to move to the area in the coming decades – has come with growing pains.

The city is consistently ranked in the most expensive places to live in the Treasure State.

For some residents, the change isn’t coming fast enough.

“I do know that we’ve been talking about it for years,” says Kathy France, a longtime Bozeman resident. “And I’m not seeing any growth. If it’s been talked about this long, why are we not seeing anything changing?”

France rented in Bozeman for years before finally buying a home in the late 1980s. She says she has no idea how people can find an affordable place to rent in the city now.

Joshua Heishman has only lived in Bozeman for a year, but he can agree that affordable housing is a widespread issue in the community.

The city has been developing its community housing needs assessment since May, with a 22-person housing working group serving as its stewards.

Loren Olsen is the city’s new Affordable Housing Program Manager, a role he’s held since April.

“The guiding idea is that it is a complicated subject, you know, Bozeman is not alone,” says Olsen about the plan. He adds that they’re trying to put the community “at the front” in making decisions about housing.

Tuesday’s open house didn’t have any planned presentations. Instead, residents spoke one-on-one with city employees.

One thing everyone can agree on, though, is that the solution to Bozeman’s housing crisis is not simple.

The city will keep comments from the open houses in mind as they move towards creating a community housing action plan, which is due sometime in late 2019.

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