On Housing Shortages in Montana, Tester Presses Federal Reserve Chair During Senate Banking Committee Hearing

Senator: “There are plenty of small businesses, schools, hospitals, main street businesses that can’t hire people, they can’t expand, because there simply is no place for them to live”

As part of his continued efforts to lower costs and improve access to housing across Montana, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today pressed Federal Reserve Chairman Jerome Powell on solutions to work-force housing shortages during a Senate Banking Committee hearing. 

Tester began his remarks by relaying to Chairman Powell that he hears about challenges stemming from rising costs and housing shortages in every corner of Montana: “Look, regardless of where I go in the state of Montana, housing is a big issue. Whether it’s Billings or Butte or Bozeman or Busby or Big Sandy, it doesn’t matter, larger towns to medium sized towns to small towns, housing is a huge issue. And I think it’s a huge issue all over the country and correct me if I’m not correct in that. And I was wondering how the housing challenges fit into the overall economic picture that you’re seeing?”

Tester specifically pressed Chairman Powell on addressing how housing shortages are impacting the overall economy, and stressed that main street businesses are reeling because they cannot hire employees if they have nowhere to live: “So let me drill down a little bit… I’m speaking more from a standpoint of economic growth, and there are plenty of small businesses, schools, hospitals, main street businesses that can’t hire people, they can’t expand, because there simply is no place for them to live. How does that fit into your economic outlook metrics? Because I think, from my perspective at least, I think it’s limiting the opportunity for expansion, it’s limiting the opportunity for entrepreneurs, business startups. Does that fit into the economic picture that you look at?”

Additionally, Tester asked Chairman Powell if policies that incentivize more workforce housing would boost the economy: “Do you believe that if we were to put forth some housing incentives, whatever they may be, if those incentives resulted in more affordable workforce housing on the market, that would have positive impacts on the economy?”

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion for tackling rising housing costs and bolstering the state’s housing supply.

Last month, Tester secured $10.2 million in Rebuilding American Infrastructure with Sustainability and Equity (RAISE) Grant funding to improve housing and critical infrastructure in East Helena. Earlier this year, Tester secured more than $16 million for housing programs across the state to increase the supply of housing for Montanans. In November, Tester introduced his Preservation and Reinvestment Initiative for Community Enhancement (PRICE) Act – legislation that would revitalize Montana’s affordable housing supply by establishing a manufactured housing community improvement grant program.

In September, Tester introduced his bipartisan Rural Housing Service Reform Act of 2023 – legislation which would improve federal rural housing programs, cut government red tape, and strengthen the supply of affordable housing across Montana.


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