On Missoula’s Housing Trust Fund And Who The Hell Is Danny Tennenbaum?

by William Skink

On Wednesday, the illuminated brain trust we call City Council weighed in on the affordable housing trust-fund being pitched to address Missoula’s housing crisis. The Missoula Current article, like the Missoulian article, is reporting the same numbers–$100,000 annually from the general fund and a million from MRA–and is even reporting on the private sector funding with similar vagueness. From the link:

The proposal looks to establish a fund of $10 million within five years with contributions coming from tax increment financing, the city’s general fund, and a litany of other revenue sources.

I bolded this part of Kidston’s reporting because I’m trying to figure out what “a litany of revenue sources” is supposed to mean. A “litany” is defined as a series of petitions for use in church services or processions, usually recited by the clergy and responded to in a recurring formula by the people. A very strange word to be using in this context.

While Kidston fails to get any specifics about these supposed revenue sources, Engen’s housing director does “acknowledge” private sector funding, but leaves it at that:

Eran Pehan, director of the Office of Housing and Community Development, said the trust fund proposal was written to address funding sources within the city’s control. Voters – not the City Council – decide general obligation bonds, making it a questionable funding source.

“We’re really focusing on the sources within our control. As you know, a voter approved initiative is not something the city of Missoula would initiate. That would be a community driven effort,” said Pehan. “We’re focusing on the dedication of city funds and the alignment of city funds, and also acknowledging some of the private investment and private equity that we’ve identified as well.”

What private investment? What private equity? I would like to know who and what they are going to tap for this fund, and our elected City Council members should want to know as well, yet no one seems curious about the unnamed private sector sources “within our control” to leverage for this fund.

Instead of asking for details on private sector funding sources, Heidi West wanted to know why Missoula isn’t digging itself deeper in debt with a voter-iniated housing bond. Voters may have been stupid enough to vote for the gas tax, because they stupidly think it’s somehow magically tailored toward tourists, but I don’t think our illuminated brain trust is confident voters would be stupid enough to vote for their housing bond, so they’re not going to try.

Another idea for ramping up the general fund contribution from $100,000 to a million came from some dude by the name of Danny Tenenbaum.

Danny Tenenbaum, who called in to support the plan, urged the city to do more. He asked the council to direct $1 million annually to the account from the city’s general fund.

“This is a really exciting tool to help create affordable housing in Missoula,” he said. “It’s not just the housing community that’s excited about it. It’s people like myself who work in the criminal justice field. This will be a fantastic addition that will help the clients we serve on a daily basis.”

Who is this guy URGING our illuminated brain trust to spend MORE TAX MONEY on a trust fund?

For some reason Martin Kidston allows Tenenbaum to have the final say in his article, yet doesn’t explain who Tenenbaum is.

It only took me a few minutes of fingertip research to discover Danny Tenenbaum is a public defender in Missoula running for House District 95, which includes Missoula’s Westside, Riverfront and River Road neighborhoods.

Isn’t this relevant information that should have been included in the article? Why was it omitted? Things that make me go, hmmmm…

If you go to Danny Tenenbaum’s political website, his main priorities are rethinking healthcare, expanding public education, protecting public lands, climate action and justice reform. Housing is not even listed as one of his five top priorities, but that isn’t stopping this former sandwich artist from advocating a million bucks diverted from schools and police to a housing trust fund.

The housing trust fund will be taken up again next week. Maybe then one of our elected council members can muster the gumption to ask about the LITANY of other revenue sources our housing clique are so far keeping mum about.

About Travis Mateer

I'm an artist and citizen journalist living and writing in Montana. You can contact me here: willskink at yahoo dot com
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2 Responses to On Missoula’s Housing Trust Fund And Who The Hell Is Danny Tennenbaum?

  1. Danny is from Wisconsin. He transplanted here and is trying to transplant his politics here as well. Based on his social media activity, defunding police to 2017 levels is one of his priorities. Here’s Danny in his own words:

    “If Missoula funded its police department at FY 2017 levels, it would free up ~$2.6 mil– enough to create the Affordable Housing Land Trust proposed in the Mayor’s recently-published Housing Policy.”

    You might remember that 2017 was the year our police went before the city council to decry the lack of officers and how this was leading to burnout.

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