by Travis Mateer
I know it might be confusing for those who continue subscribing to tribal politics, but if one gets beyond the rhetoric to see how policy ACTUALLY PLAYS OUT on the ground, the title of this post isn’t all that challenging.
If the last few years haven’t conveyed to you the importance of language and, even more importantly, WHO gets to define the meaning of words and phrases, then I’m not sure this post will be of much value. For those of you who DO understand the significance, let me introduce you to WORKFORCE HOUSING.
Before we get to Martin “Gomer” Kidston’s piece on how MRA is exploring opportunities under the state’s new definition of workforce housing, let’s consult Wikipedia for a more objective sense of what we’re talking about here (emphasis mine):
Workforce housing is a term that is increasingly used by planners, government, and organizations concerned with housing policy or advocacy. It is gaining cachet with realtors, developers and lenders. Workforce housing can refer to any form of housing, including ownership of single or multi-family homes, as well as occupation of rental units. Workforce housing is generally understood to mean affordable housing for households with earned income that is insufficient to secure quality housing in reasonable proximity to the workplace.
Yes, if you want to understand how a conservative state legislator and ardent critic of Tax Increment Financing changed his tune, it’s right there in the bold. Now, let’s see how Gomer reports on this exciting new opportunity being explored by Ellen Buchanan’s minions (emphasis mine):
With a change in state law regarding workforce housing, the Missoula Redevelopment Agency plans to convene a working group with a number of stakeholders to determine how it may apply tax increment financing to certain projects.
The term workforce housing may mean different things to different groups, and cities across the state are wrestling with how to define it. But if MRA can ramp up a new program around such housing using tax increment as a catapult, it could help spark a new tool for development.
If you’re not excited, I emphasized the exciting parts about RAMPing up things to CATAPULT them in order to SPARK this NEW TOOL! I hope that helps.
I guess since the market is fucked with central bank shell games while a senile pervert plays President, the new ways to ensure developers get paid while Rome burns have to be REALLY sold to the pitchfork-sharpening public.
The change that will be explored by the working group that will be convened could mean DIRECT investment in housing, which is very exciting.
MRA has long-invested in both affordable and market-rate housing. While that investment doesn’t go directly into the development of housing, it can be used to fund the infrastructure needed for the development to take place.
Most recently, that has included road and infrastructure work in the Scott Street district where several housing projects are under way. That direct investment in infrastructure, including utilities, can help lower the cost to the developer, with the savings being passed on the end user.
But the change in state law could enable MRA to invest directly into housing if it’s viewed the same as infrastructure.
“If it is a new grant program, it would be a set of guidelines for that grant program if they’re different than the infrastructure program we have now,” Gorski said. “We’ve got some ideas and concepts.”
Yeah, I bet they’ve got some ideas and concepts. It’s easy to dream big with other people’s money.
Meanwhile, taxpayers in the County gave our Commissioners some “pushback” on KGVO yesterday. Josh Slotnick didn’t like being depicted as a spending addict because damn it they do say no sometimes! (emphasis NOT mine):
One caller accused the County Commissioners of being ‘addicted to spending’ the taxpayers’ money, to which Slotnick forcefully responded.
“The last little piece on this ‘addicted to spending’,” he said. “Such an easy thing to say, and it’s actually ridiculous. We said ‘no’ to more than three million dollars worth of requests. In terms of how much we spend attracts inflation; no more. We didn’t spend way more money than we actually did spend in terms of requests from our staff who want to get those requests honored so they can do better give and provide better services to people. We held the line on spending.”
While I commend our Commissioners for going on the radio and taking the heat, the reality is not going to be pretty come November 8th. I’m sure the plan on how to message the blame game is already being devised as I write this.
If you appreciate this content, consider making a donation at my about page.
Thanks for reading!