Tester, Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus Discuss Tackling Housing, Critical Infrastructure Needs at Senate Hearing
Senator introduced Andrus before Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs hearing on 21st century infrastructure
U.S. Senator Jon Tester introduced Bozeman Mayor Cyndy Andrus as a witness at today’s Senate Banking Committee hearing on infrastructure in the 21st century to discuss tackling the critical housing and infrastructure needs facing Bozeman and Montana.
Tester and Andrus both urged the Committee to address the housing affordability crisis in Montana during the hearing, and Tester called for a significant investment to help Montanans achieve the dream of homeownership and to invest in American infrastructure to maintain a competitive edge over China.
“In Bozeman Montana, there’s no such thing as a first-time homebuyer because the cost of homes is so damn high,” Tester said. “We need to step up and do something that’s meaningful, and we need to have a debate. The bottom line is, the needs are huge across this country because we’ve been living off our parents and our grandparents investment in infrastructure, and I’m not exactly young anymore.”
Bozeman is one of the fastest-growing cities in America, and has struggled with skyrocketing housing prices. According to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle, the median home price in Bozeman was $660,000 in April 2021 – a 50% increase in the median price for a single-family home in one year.
At the hearing, Tester asked Andrus to describe the housing shortage in Bozeman, and what the federal government can do to help address the affordability challenge.
“The affordable housing crisis is not just a coastal, urban problem, but it affects cities and towns throughout the country,” Andrus said. “Bozeman is the latest example of a community experiencing the growing pains of a tight housing stock and high desirability. At the local level, we are taking an all-of-the-above, no idea is a bad idea approach to solving the crisis because, unfortunately, there are no silver bullets to addressing this problem. However, we need our partners at the State and Federal level to step up as well and help us provide quality, affordable housing for Montanans at all income levels, not just the wealthy.”
Tester and Andrus also discussed Tester’s effort to reverse a new Office of Management and Budget proposal that could significantly alter the amount of federal funding received by Bozeman, Great Falls, and Missoula by raising the population threshold to qualify as a Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). The MSA designation is used by a number of federal agencies and programs to determine funding allocations for a range of federal programs – including housing initiatives – and OMB’s proposal would threaten Bozeman’s ability to access those programs.
Tester has led the charge to reverse OMB’s decision, and he recently introduced the Metropolitan Statistical Area Stabilization Act to prevent OMB from implementing the rule change.
Tester has worked tirelessly to expand access to housing Montanans can afford. He recently secured more than $15 million in HUD funding made available by the American Rescue Plan to support affordable housing construction, purchasing, or rehabilitation for low- and very-low income families, and earlier this year, he secured a commitment from Secretary Fudge that she would work to break down silos preventing affordable housing for Montana workers and Tribes from being built and maintained.
Tester also held a Housing Summit to gather ideas and suggestions from stakeholders and constituents on how to address the growing housing crisis, and in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, he secured $3.3 million to support housing, public health, coronavirus response, and economic disruption needs.
Watch Tester’s introduction of Mayor Andrus HERE
Watch Tester and Andrus full exchange HERE