Affordability report highlights Bozeman housing concerns


BOZEMAN, Mont. - Home prices are on the rise in Bozeman and, with them, the prospects for those looking to purchase a home are going down.

According to a quarterly housing affordability report done by the Bozeman Department of Community Development, the median sale price for single-family homes is $329,000.

The report says a household of four people making the median income, around $76,000, are not able to purchase a single-family house at that price. Condos and townhomes are more affordable, but the prices of those are going up as well.

Community Development Director Wendy Thomas says the data speaks for itself.

"People's income is not as elastic as the housing prices. So incomes are remaining relatively steady but the cost of housing is going very far up," said Thomas.

The high price of homes isn't the only thing stopping people from being able to live in Bozeman.

NBC Montana met up with several would-be residents who say they're having difficulty finding affordable places to rent.

Jacob Zunino and his girlfriend, Jessica Kaylor, have been camping in the Bozeman area for almost seven weeks.

Zunino told us, "It's definitely been a struggle. It's pretty irritating."

They were trying to find an apartment to live in while going to school. But until just recently were unable to find one they could afford on their budget of $800 a month.

"As far as one bedroom and studios go, there is really not much of a choice," said Zunino. "And as far as two bedrooms and three bedrooms, they can get pretty pricey."

Even those, he says, would be swarmed by competing renters eager to find a home. And time and time again they were turned away.

"It really confuses me. I'm surprised at the lack of options we have," said Zunino.

It's a confusion shared by others we spoke to.

Jean Korpi has been looking for a two bedroom in town, saying, "They're too small, or they're too expensive, or they don't allow my dog. So, it's difficult."

With a budget of $875 and two months of looking, she and her boyfriend are still staying with relatives.

She attributes the lack of affordable housing to the ever-increasing MSU freshman class.

"Even they're building a new dorm," said Korpi, "and people just come here and they love it."

Zunino says the issue of students and young people being unable to easily live in Bozeman is one the city needs to tackle head-on.

"There are no homes to hold that younger crowd that's being influenced to come here," Zunino said.

The city of Bozeman, in partnership with the Human Resource Development Council, is performing a study on rental housing rates. The results of the study are expected in September.

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