by Travis Mateer
Why does Mayor Engen not trust former County Commissioner and current WMMHC Board President, Jean Curtiss? Because that is essentially what city officials are saying after WMMHC told the city its offer for the Bridge Apartments wasn’t good enough.
Here’s Curtiss explaining the decision:
“The board reviewed the initial offers and is in negotiation with the person with what we considered the best offer,” said Board President Jean Curtiss. “Our hope and goal is to have an offer that will give Western the opportunity to reinvest in our providing of behavioral health services within this community and others in Western Montana, and resulting in an ownership that will continue to provide affordable housing for the people who live there.”
I added the emphasis because continuing to provide affordable housing for the people who live there is the whole point, right? So, if a former County Commissioner is claiming that the housing will continue to be affordable for the tenants, then what’s the problem?
The problem, as you read further, is that Mayor Engen and his cronies lack CERTAINTY because WMMHC isn’t providing them with the kind of information that would guarantee quality political optics for his reelection effort.
And that has “the city” concerned:
While Western Montana said it’s seeking surety in its agreement with its chosen buyer that it will keep the 20 residents housed at an affordable rate, the lack of certainty has the city concerned.
Missoula Mayor John Engen on Tuesday said the city made a full-price offer last week and responded with a counter offer on Friday.
“We were very surprised to hear from our realtor that our offer had been rejected, because we believe the city is in the best position to keep residents housed,” Engen said. “We do not know who the buyer is because Western has not told us. We also don’t know why our offer was rejected or not subject to another counter-offer. We’ve been assured that Western’s goal is to perpetuate the current use of the Bridge, but without knowing who the buyer is, we are concerned.”
This “concern” from Engen is even more curious when you realize that Jean Curtiss worked very closely with Engen in 2012 to develop Reaching Home, Missoula’s 10 year plan to end homelessness. All you have to do is go to the city website and see who signed off on the plan.
Here’s a screen shot:
Nine years ago, John Engen and Jean Curtiss were on the same page, working to put housing first for ALL Montanans.
Now, they aren’t even speaking to each other as more low-income Montanans wonder if they will be the next victims of Missoula’s gentrification on steroids.
What is REALLY going on behind the scenes of this negotiation? If I can find out, you’ll read it here first.
Thanks for reading.