Tester Presses for Solutions to Housing Shortages in Montana at Senate Banking Hearing

Senator on out-of-state investors buying up housing and jacking up rent: “The people they’re putting at risk don’t have a lot of options, period.”

U.S. Senator Jon Tester today questioned housing experts during a Senate Banking Subcommittee hearing, pressing them for solutions to high housing costs and housing shortages in Montana, as well as ways to keep national investors from taking away housing options for hard-working families. He also pressed for passage of his Rural Housing Service Reform Act to improve rural housing supply. 

Tester began by emphasizing that he frequently hears about challenges with workforce housing across Montana, citing the recent closure of Pyramid Mountain Lumber in Seeley Lake: “Housing is a big issue everywhere, it’s a big issue in Montana… It’s the first thing I hear about when I talk to Main Street businesses. We just had a saw mill shut down in Montana – and this is just one example of many. And the reason it shut down: lack of workforce, and lack of housing even if they had the workforce.”

“So, if we’re going to have an economy and communities that are vibrant,” Tester continued, calling focus to his legislation to improve rural housing: “I think we need to get the Rural Housing Service Reform Act passed.”

Tester continued to highlight the trend of out-of-state investors buying up manufactured home communities, underscoring the dire consequences for Montana’s working families: “Manufactured homes have long been widely utilized for affordability in Montana. In recent years, we’ve seen out-of-state investors come in and buy manufactured home communities. They start with adding fees, and then they jack up rent, and all of the sudden those affordable housing options aren’t so affordable anymore. And quite honestly, the people they’re putting at risk don’t have a lot of options, period.”

Tester specifically asked the housing experts about this issue, pressing for solutions: “What tools do we have to keep big national investors from buying up – whether it be in Montana or any other state – buying up these manufactured home communities, eliminating the only affordable option for many of the hard-working families and for Montana’s seniors? What can we do about that?”

Tester has been Montana’s leading champion for rural housing accessibility. Tester recently introduced the Appraisal Industry Improvement Act – bipartisan legislation that would improve the home appraisal process by bolstering the appraiser workforce. 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.

Tester also questioned policy experts during a Senate Banking Committee hearing in March on potential solutions to bring down costs and boost the supply of housing in rural communities.


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