Tester Pushes for Solutions to Housing Shortages in Montana & Rural America

Senator presses officials for long-term plan that would expand affordable housing supply in rural communities

In his continued effort to lower costs and increase affordable housing supply for Montana communities, U.S. Senator Jon Tester today questioned housing policy experts on housing shortages in Montana and across rural America and ways to increase supply in rural communities.

Tester pressed the panelists on long-term plans for increasing housing supply to support businesses in rural communities.

“One of the things that’s obvious to me is the fact that we’ve got a problem.” Tester said. “It is having some major impacts on economic growth in the small towns because there’s no place for the workforce to live. There’s no place for entrepreneurs to live. Doing the right thing here is important. We don’t want to exacerbate the problem; we want to make it better…Could you give me a little insight into what should be in the long-term plan that would actually result in more houses on the market?”

Members of the panel included Dr. Lawrence Yun, Chief Economist and Senior Vice President of Research, National Association of REALTORS; Dr. Douglas Holtz-Eakin, President, American Action Forum; and Peggy Bailey, Vice President for Housing Policy, Center on Budget and Policy Priorities.

Tester is a strong advocate for expanding affordable housing opportunities in Montana. Through his role on the Senate Appropriations Committee, he played a key role in negotiating a bipartisan budget deal that made substantial investments into affordable housing initiatives including the HOME and Community Development Block Grant programs.

Last November, Tester secured nearly $1.7 million for rural Montana housing and economic development through the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Rural Development Awards program.

In 2020, he helped secure more than $4 million for Public Housing Authorities across Montana and more than $26 million for affordable housing in Indian Country. He also worked to secure $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.That same year, Tester 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.