by William Skink
In a comment from the last post about Hillary and the media Pete Talbot must have thought it was already April Fools day because obviously this comment isn’t meant to be taken literally:
I’ve reversed my stand on guns. Everyone should pack heat all the time, everywhere. And drink more alcohol. It’s time to thin the herd.
Of course Big Swede jumped on this comment to point out that “they” are already being “thinned” in Chicago. In response Pete had this to say:
They’re being “thinned” everywhere in the good ol’ USA, Swede.
Re: my most recent comment — must be the week I’m spending in the Magic City that brought out my less-than-sensitive side.
I find this comment to be fascinating. What started off as sarcasm turned into an interesting false dichotomy where Missoula is sensitive and Billings is not. Not only is Billings not sensitive, but Pete ascribes his insensitive comment about gun violence to time spent in the Magic City.
Talbot’s comment is indicative of a Missoula elitism that does us no favors every two years in Helena. This Missoula elitism also doesn’t do the socio-economically challenged members of our community any good either.
For the last five years housing affordability has moved farther and farther beyond what a median income can afford according to the most recent housing data:
Missoula has a serious housing affordability problem and it’s a seller’s market right now, according to the Missoula Organization of Realtors’ 2016 Housing Report released Thursday.
The Housing Affordability Index, which measures how hard it is for a person or family earning median income to purchase a median-priced home, declined across the board in 2015, as it has since 2010.
That’s mainly because the median sales price of homes in Missoula reached an all-time high of $238,700 in 2015 – a jump of 6.1 percent over 2014 – according to Brint Wahlberg of Windermere Real Estate, who chaired MOR’s housing report group. Five years ago, the median sales price was barely more than $200,000.
“Due to the rise in median price, affordability has taken a hit,” he said. “Potential buyers are losing out on opportunities for houses and there is not enough supply to meet demand.”
Median family incomes in Missoula range from $43,560 for a single person to $62,220 for four people, but it would take an income of more than $80,000 to afford a median-priced home with a 4 percent down payment, according to the report.
When you pass bond after bond because property owners are seen as nothing but piggy banks to be raided for amenities, housing becomes more and more unaffordable. And yet there is still so much demand, housing is being built all over the valley.
Growth in the valley and gentrification downtown continues, despite a lack of critical infrastructure. Apparently Missoula County is so strapped for funds to maintain transportation infrastructure that a gas tax is being considered:
Members of the Missoula Metropolitan Planning Organization have met with the city’s Public Works Committee to discuss the possibility of implementing a gas tax in Missoula County.
The MPO says a possible two-cent per gallon gas tax could generate between $600,000 and $1.1 million in new revenue if it’s approved, but the road to garnering that approval is a long one.
While sensitive Missoula makes it more and more unaffordable for people who don’t make 80,000 bucks a year to own a piece of the American Dream, efforts to transform downtown continue.
Seven years ago, when I started working at Missoula’s downtown homeless shelter, the dirtier aspects of downtown were already being upscaled, as reported by the Missoulian in this article:
When ballet point shoes first trek across a floor once sticky with alcohol, the transformation of the La Flesch Building will be complete.
In early May, in the former Jay’s Downstairs bar, the Downtown Dance Collective will open its doors to reveal more than 2,600 square feet of dance and performance space. And they’ll also reveal further evidence that downtown Missoula is becoming more upscale, more refined in its tastes.
“Downtown’s going to be changing a lot in the next 20 years, like all Rocky Mountain towns,” said Linda McCarthy, executive director of the Missoula Downtown Association. “People are discovering how important good quality of life is.”
Quality of life for who? Transplanted east coasters and fleeing Californians?
Today a piece of this downtown gentrification will be open to the public. The building I used to work at that housed over a hundred people in deplorable conditions will now be known as the Royal Apartments and will house much fewer people:
The downtown building that used to house the Poverello Center has gone from run-down to partly rented – as the Royal Apartments.
From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, owners Nancy and David Tyrell are inviting the public to tour the $1 million renovation project that gutted the dilapidated interior of 535 Ryman St. and replaced it with 14 units including studio apartments and one- and two-bedroom rentals.
“If nothing else, it will convince you that it is possible to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear!” the Tyrells said in an invitation.
Since 2008, when the economy blew up, growth in Missoula has returned with a vengeance. But the economic recovery for most Americans hasn’t materialized. For Pete Talbot and other Missoula elitists, I suggest reading an insightful conversation between Chris Hedges and my favorite economist, Michael Hudson, titled The Lies of Neoliberal Economists. Or just keep talking shit on Billings as Missoula becomes completely unaffordable for the peasants.