AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND - MAY 18: The next government budget announcement is set to effect rental properties and the housing market on May 18, 2010 in Auckland, New Zealand. Finance Minister Bill English will deliver the 2010 Budget at Parliament House on March 20. (Photo by Sandra Mu/Getty Images)

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Why am I skeptical of affordable housing in Bozeman? Mostly because, in my opinion, it can’t happen as long as it’s a political issue.

And as long as the City Commission, rather than builders and contractors, are involved it will always be political.

The 2007 Affordable Housing Ordinance

Why was the 2007 Affordable Housing Ordinance suspended in 2011?

The very simple answer has nothing whatever to do with politics. It was suspended due to, — say it with me, — “market forces.”

We were slowly emerging from a disastrous recession. Building came to a screeching halt and that had nothing to do with politics, or ordinances, or whatever the affordable housing crowd wanted.

The market would not allow it and until a way is found for the markets to allow it — affordable house will remain a pipe dream.

How Do We Get Affordable Housing?

A realtor friend of mine came up with an interesting idea. Over the past few years the city has gone into the real estate business. The Story Mansion, Mandeville Farm property, just to name a couple.

“The city of Bozeman owns 85 acres of farmland west of North Seventh Avenue and north of Interstate 90, near a rail line and the airport.

The city bought the property for $3 million in 2003 to use as a waste transfer station, but that plan never came to fruition.

Now, the city rents the land to a local wheat farmer.” (Source: AMANDA RICKER, Chronicle Staff Writer, May 9, 2013)

My friend suggested that the city, that does not have to make a profit on its land as a developer, would donate the land for low cost housing development.

Contractors could make a cap of 12% profit and that would allow them to build profitable but affordable housing. The homeowner would have to own the home at least ten years before they could sell it.

The housing would still produce property tax income, plus impact fees, and a quality affordable home could be the result. Probably without granite counter tops.

Some Final Thoughts

In the Marsha Youngman, Joe Frost, and Steve Kirchhoff days on the city commission about the only housing under consideration was a single family home for those qualifying.

My wife and my first apartment in San Diego had mold growing up the walls and roaches the size of small Buick's. When we left 13 years later we were in a four bedroom single family home in a pretty nice neighborhood.

The point is that we did what most people do. You live as best you can but with hard work you slowly move up the income ladder.

The great thing about living in America is that everyone gets an opportunity. And, it’s the best opportunity in the world.

If you want affordable housing then put yourself in a position to afford it. That way all housing is affordable.

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