Guest Column by Bruce Brensdal and Jennifer Olson
WASHINGTON, D.C. – (RealEstateRama) — There’s no better place to live, work, and play than Montana. Building a successful life here starts with having an affordable and accessible place to call home. Still, for many Montanans finding a stable home can come with barriers. We know families are encountering rising housing costs, a low supply of affordable apartments, and housing choice barriers. Every day our teams here at the Montana Department of Commerce are working to break down these barriers and make access to safe housing affordable and accessible.
Last year, the Montana Department of Commerce helped about 9,000 Montanans find affordable and accessible housing through new-or-improved rental units, rental assistance, home ownership assistance, and reverse annuity mortgages. Specifically, all newly-constructed housing developments now meet accessibility standards, and acquired single-family homes are modified to increase the number of units that will work for people living with a disability.
We are proud to say that Commerce is making a difference to remove barriers that can restrict fair housing choice, or access to accessible homes for Montanans living with a physical or mental disability.
For example, Billings residents will soon have new accessible and adaptable apartments available for people with disabilities as part of the Red Fox Apartments that are currently being built. Folks living with a disability will be able to maintain their independence at Red Fox because the apartments are built with wider doorways and hallways, and easily-accessible appliances and bathrooms.
In Helena, 118 homes at the Guardian Apartments were fully renovated, improving accessibility features and modernizing units that had fallen into disrepair. These 118 homes will remain affordable for seniors and those with a disability for at least the next 45 years.
Our goal is to keep working with communities and housing partners across the state to continue to remove fair housing barriers and make available more affordable and accessible homes for Montanans. This work impacts all our communities and neighbors. By making smart investments and partnering with private enterprise, we’re taking big strides to help every Montanan find their own little piece of Big Sky Country.
Bruce Brensdal, Executive Director, Montana Board of Housing; Administrator, Housing Division, Montana Department of Commerce
Jennifer Olson, Administrator, Community Development Division, Montana Department of Commerce