Meet The Portland, Oregon Experts Getting Public Money To Develop Missoula County’s Affordable Housing Strategy

by Travis Mateer

Readers, I’d like to introduce you to a man who’s PORTLAND, OREGON company has been tasked with helping MISSOULA COUNTY develop their affordable housing strategy, John Tapogna.

John is smiling big because his Portland firm, ECONorthwest, inked a contract with Missoula County to develop our strategy for housing. From the link:

The county has already hired a new housing coordinator and in February, it contracted ECONorthwest out of Portland for $30,000 to develop an affordable housing strategy.

The county has a list of goals it expects to find in the final product, which will be developed over the summer by community input and a needs analysis.

“There will be a suite of options,” said Strohmaier. “We’re looking for how we can best use our limited resources in the most impactful, transformation way as possible. Simply trying the same thing and expecting different results isn’t going to get the job done.”

Now, maybe you thought we ALREADY had an affordable housing strategy that took years to develop (and DID NOT include inclusionary zoning).

No, that plan was ONLY for the city of Missoula and has no relevance or bearing whatsoever on the terrain where I live. Obviously when you cross the boundary line from the city into the county you enter a completely different realm, requiring a completely different plan.

And only the experts from Portand, Oregon, can help us. Like Lorelei Juntunen.

While the shit-eating grin may be dialed down, the expertise is not. Here’s some of Lorelei Juntunen’s expertise that Missoula County may benefit from:

Lorelei is a Partner and Project Director specializing in the evaluation of the intersection between public investment and community development. Her recent projects have identified creative approaches to investment in redevelopment and affordable housing for local governments. Many recent projects have focused on implementation of equitable housing outcomes, including development of the State of Oregon’s first Statewide Housing Plan and affordable housing policies for many Oregon communities. Other recent projects include developing a funding strategy for investing in major transportation infrastructure needed to support growth in Bend, Oregon, and identifying new revenue tools to create a sustainable fiscal future for Columbia County, Oregon. Lorelei’s analysis has informed implementation strategies for bringing new private development to Olympia, Washington’s downtown; redeveloping a former industrial property in downtown St. Helens, Oregon; and residential displacement and gentrification in Portland and its suburbs.

I sure feel better about these Portland experts bringing their Portland lived experience to bear on Missoula’s affordable housing crisis. I bet they’ll discover all kinds of amazing things, like how Missoula’s wages are shit, which is also how I would describe our state-wide Medicaid programs, since they’re derived from a low-population state spread out over a vast geographical expanse.

To conclude today’s post, I’ll offer a cost-free analysis you’ll NEVER hear from the experts: Missoula is experiencing the consequences of class warfare, and that asymmetric battle trickles down from central bank policy to the use of Tax Increment Financing.

Because it’s always, ALWAYS all about the money.

Thanks for reading.

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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5 Responses to Meet The Portland, Oregon Experts Getting Public Money To Develop Missoula County’s Affordable Housing Strategy

  1. Djinn&tonic says:
    Lorelei Juntunen of ECONorthwest described trends in housing prices, 2nd home ownership, and other factors in the Hood River County housing market.

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  3. Yes. It is class warfare. Class warfare in Missoula is a non-partisan affair. I would tell these folks from Stumptown the same thing I’m telling the City of Missoula: it would be tens of millions of dollars cheaper, stop out of state and in-state real estate speculation, slow the rate of property tax increases, stifle gentrification, and take a bite out of cronyism and corruption, to simply eliminate the middlemen, that is, the multistate development consortiums, and directly contract with local and other Montana labor, to build TRULY AFFORDABLE houses for the people, on the banked land the City buys for ten million and sells to those big consortiums for much less. It’s amazing that most folks don’t see this giant ripoff happening right in front of their eyes. It’s the TIF crack pipe raining millions on developers to build hundreds of half-million dollar homes, and our electeds pronounce it “fame-changing” that we get a few less expensive dwellings out of it, that one who makes only $46/hr can afford.

    It’s economic cleansing and class warfare, and self-described “progressives” on the City Council are all in for it. Their policies are not progressive, they are anti-working class.

    I will continue to run an increasingly strident campaign on behalf of the half of Missoulians who are being exploited and displaced by the big Landlord class that is ~ 40% of our population. If this were a Latin American country, or France, Africa, Spain, or many others, civil war would be nigh.

    That bullets are not flying does not make this local class war non-violent.

    If you’re home boiling water for Top Ramen and a criminal tries to set your house on fire, the law gives you the right to use deadly force to stop the miscreant.

    If, on the other hand, you are dispossessed of your dwelling by a member of the oligarchy for political reasons, or as a product of real estate speculation, not only does the law give you no right to use force to resist, the law and courts are predicated on the notion that property rights are superior to human rights. The law has armed enforcers to vindicate the rights of the exploiting class.

    But back to my original tract: Missoula practices what some would call socialism for the rich, but it is actually a hybrid of fascism and neoliberalism dressed up in progressive clothing.

    My plan, some would call socialist, but I would do nothing in that vein that isn’t already being done. I don’t advocate City ownership of the land on which we all live. I advocate actually using our banked land to yield actually affordable housing and local labor to build it, at a fraction of what the City spends by lavishing millions on big corporate middlemen. I mean, when you borrow $4.3 million, spend $10 million on land, sell all bit a slice of the land to corporate middlemen for $1.6 million, the middlemen build, rent and sell 200+ market rate homes at $425K mean price, and you the City yield 70 “affordable” homes out of the deal, FFS you’ve paid ~$181,475 to build each of those 70 homes…but they aren’t truly affordable because they’re for incomes of $94K per year $47/hr) twice our local mean. So, your middleman is making roughly $143,000 on each of those 70 homes and not one person truly in need has been housed. The middlemen get all of the ~$425K for each of the 200 homes built on the land practically given away to them.

    Call my plan whatever you want. I call it fiscally responsible and problem-solving. The banked land on which the bones are built would be transferred to nonprofits and sold to developers with covenants that mandate inclusionary and rent-ceilinged homes, which get around the legislature’s ban on local rent control ordinances and inclusionary zoning. Some of the city land should be donated to Habitat for Humanity, also.

    When the numbers are crunched, tens of millions of bucks are saved and hundreds of actually affordable homes and apts are built. People are put to work. The vacancy rate increases, rents decrease. Property taxes level off.

    It’s a win for the 60% of Missoulians who don’t derive 100% of their income from collection of rents and dividends.

    Teddy Roosevelt would like it.
    Franklin Roosevelt would like it.
    Mom and pop landlords would like it.

    Banksters and oligarchs would hate it.

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