In Banking Committee, Tester Supports Law Enforcement, Addresses Montana Housing Availability and Affordability

Senator: “Our police and first responders need the government to defend them, not by just words, but providing them with the tools and the money to do tough jobs safely and efficiently”

During a Banking, Housing, and Urban Affair Committee nomination hearing this week, U.S. Senator Jon Tester emphasized his strong support for law enforcement and secured commitments from a number of nominees for positions at the Department of Housing and Urban Development to tackle the issues of housing availability and affordability facing Montana.

“It is my colleagues’ and my duty to ensure that we’re meeting [law enforcement’s] needs during changing and challenging times,” said Tester. “Whether that’s by making sure there are cops and firefighters on the beat by allowing towns and counties to recoup pandemic revenue losses-as we passed in the American Rescue Plan-or by cutting red tape for the families of fallen officers to access their earned benefits. Our police and first responders need the government to defend them, not by just words, but providing them with the tools and the money to do tough jobs safely and efficiently,”

Tester has been a longtime advocate for Montana’s law enforcement and first responders, and recently introduced his Assisting Narcotics and Trafficking Officers in Interdicting (ANTI) Drugs Act aimed at boosting critical funding to help Montana law enforcement combat drug trafficking and increase public safety.

Tester then pushed the nominees on their commitment and ability to address critical housing challenges facing Montana and rural America:

“We’ve had housing challenges around Montana for a long time, and it’s gotten worse during the pandemic,” said Tester. “There are areas of the state where there isn’t enough affordable housing, but there are also places without housing available at any price point. I know there’s no silver bullet to fix this, but I’m curious about what each of you see, as your priorities, if confirmed, to start addressing the housing challenges that we’re seeing all across this country.”

The three nominees made commitments to prioritize addressing the supply and demand side of Montana’s housing crisis, and conducting data-oriented research with the intent of finding solutions. Montana is seeing record housing prices across the state, with areas like Gallatin County seeing a nearly 50% increase in sales prices over the last year.

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.