Bill Would Loan Coal Trust Fund $ to Build Low-Income Housing

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus told the Senate Taxation Committee Wednesday there’s a statewide affordable housing crisis that is quickly becoming an epidemic.

Tim Pierce with the UM Legislative News Service reports, Andrus supports House Bill 16, which would offer $15 million from the state’s coal trust fund as a loan to develop low and moderate income housing across the state.

“This is another tool in our toolbox to help us solve this affordable housing problem.”

The bill, sponsored by Democratic Representative Dave Fern from Whitefish, would only fund developing urban and rural multi-family housing, like apartment complexes.

Opposition to the bill formed in the House for its use of coal trust funding. But, Fern says housing developers will pay the money back, and the Legislature, in part, is responsible to create affordable housing.

“Well, I think it’s appropriate that the government is a partner in helping solve the problem. I think this is one of the situations where utilizing our great asset can start this ball rolling.”

The bill passed out of the House with a vote of 71-29. It drew fourteen supporters and no opponents during the Senate Taxation Committee hearing Wednesday.

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