Whitefish Workforce Housing Project Holds First Community Forum

Whitefish group members gathered to debate the pressing matter of workforce housing Sept. 1 on the again patio of Montana Tap House, the place posters stapled to picnic tables broadcast a name to arms — “Workforce Housing Project: If we don’t do it, we lose it.” 

Ed Docter, a Whitefish native and the proprietor of Tamarack Ski Shop and Montana Tap House, hosted the inaugural gathering, which is slated as the primary of many weekly conferences lined up for the Whitefish Workforce Housing Project (WWHP). At this week’s discussion board, Docter up to date involved locals about attainable options to the housing disaster, in addition to the prices of increasing the stock of worker housing. Other notable Whitefish enterprise leaders serving to lead the cost are Doug Rommereim, proprietor of the Great Northern Bar and Grill, and Jared Zuege, proprietor of Markus Foods.

Since the grassroots effort started in late July, Docter and co-leaders, Casey Malmquist, president of KCM Enterprises Inc., and Toby Scott, a Montana-based file producer and Whitefish Planning Board member, have positioned a bit of land appropriate to deal with as much as 500 staff. If the correct zoning amendments are permitted, WWHP seeks to construct a number of dormitories south of city. 

Organizers have additionally since met with Tracy McIntyre, govt director of the Montana Cooperative Development Center. McIntyre, who makes a speciality of strategic planning, will advise the group group on sustainable workforce infrastructure and viable authorities collaboration. 

The most rapid obstacles embody zoning and funding, Docter stated, including that total value estimates for a challenge of this magnitude will probably method hundreds of thousands of {dollars}. As bold because the challenge could seem at first blush, its leaders consider there are monetary incentives to assist their purpose.

“It prices some huge cash,” Docter stated. “But I’ve performed the numbers, and every worker makes me near $8,000 a month, and I’ve 24 staff, so this plan shouldn’t be past our monetary capability.”    

Next steps embody WWHP emphasizing the severity of the difficulty to different native institutions and stressing the long-term advantages of an answer. Docter additionally urged that locals ought to attend metropolis council conferences to be able to safe correct zoning approval in order that development can start as soon as funding is secured.

After WWHP’s aims have been outlined at its Sept. 1 assembly, attendees mentioned rapid alternate options. Stacey Ingham, proprietor of Indah Sushi, expressed the opportunity of housing staff on the town by means of current properties: “Could we collect large traders who may put collectively a small fund to purchase out current properties in Whitefish?”

Another attendee voiced an identical grassroots thought: “I believe everybody is aware of any person that is aware of any person with a home that they AirBnB. Can’t we ask them?”

At the assembly, Eli Nagle, a veteran and chef at Abruzzo Italian Kitchen, expressed the painstaking constraints the housing scarcity has had on his total psychological well being.

“Many of my buddies and I are burnt out,” Nagle stated. “It’s onerous to search out stability when the concern of dropping a rental weighs on my coworkers’ minds.” 

Nathan Dugan, a Whitefish resident, emphasised the significance of tackling the housing scarcity from all angles, together with the event of extra Accessory Dwelling Units (ADUs). 

Whitefish City Council will approve extra ADUs, however proposed adjustments to the city’s code don’t have any guidelines to make sure that the models are rented affordably. Dugan stated such limitations would permit housing inequities to proliferate. 

“I don’t assume that many individuals will voluntarily deed prohibit their properties,” Dugan voiced. “With at the least 10 individuals on the subsequent metropolis council assembly, we are able to get them to contemplate to dispose of owner-occupancy necessities.” 

After the hour-long assembly, many attendees left with a renewed consciousness that outreach was the following step towards fixing the workforce housing disaster. 

“While we get this challenge off the bottom, we want all people’s assist,” Docter stated. “Show as much as City Council conferences and become involved with us. If we’re loud sufficient, possibly residents and owners will open their properties and hearts.” 

To keep updated on the Whitefish Workforce Housing Project, be a part of the e-mail server [email protected] or go to its Facebook web page.

To study extra about ADU restrictions in Whitefish contact Nathan Dugan, [email protected]

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