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Whitefish unveils affordable housing designs

People look at design options for an affordable housing development in Whitefish.
People look at design options for an affordable housing development in Whitefish.
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Whitefish took another step in the plan to bring affordable housing to the city. On Wednesday, designs were unveiled for an affordable housing development during a public meeting.

The development will be built on the city’s snow lot by Railway Street and Columbia Avenue. City officials said the lot would be donated for the project.

The designs presented Wednesday were conceptual. They don’t include unit numbers or floor plans. Instead, the meeting was a chance for the public to weigh in on the designs.

Residents of the neighborhood next to the snow lot expressed concern about the height of the proposed buildings and parking.

“There’s a lot of concern, I think because it’s an older traditional neighborhood [with] a lot of single-family homes,” Homeword executive director Andrea Davis said.

Whitefish worked with Homeword, a Missoula-based nonprofit, to develop the conceptual designs.

“We create homes Montanans can afford,” Davis said.

Affordable housing is a concern for Whitefish. The city’s median income for a two-person household is $53,400, but the housing market is expensive. According to real estate data website Trulia, the average home listing price in Whitefish is $669,032, and the average rent is just over $1,800.

“When you have a lack of affordable housing, the city tends to become pretty exclusive,” Whitefish City Manager Adam Hammatt said. “That’s not something we want to do.”

The snow lot development won’t be low income housing. It’s for people who make between $20 and $30 an hour, city officials said.

Hammatt said he hopes the development will allow more people who work in Whitefish to live there too.

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“There are a lot of people that work here who want to live here,” Hammatt said. “They just can’t afford to.”

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