Park County Housing Needs Assessment shows low vacancy rates, rapidly rising home prices

Main Street in Downtown Livingston.

LIVINGSTON, Mont. – The residents of Park County are not alone when trying to find affordable housing options in a booming Montana housing market, but a recent needs assessment shows worrisome concerns for area housing.

The Park County Housing Coalition launched by the Park County Community Foundation and Human Resource Development Council of District IX (HRDC) released the 2021 Park County Housing Needs Assessment on Nov. 5.

In 2019, in response to their community vision and data initiative, the Park County Community Foundation received an overwhelming response from residents that housing was a top concern and the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the problem to near crisis levels.

According to the report, single-family median home sales prices increased 50.4% from $282,753 in December 2019 to $425,250 in June 2021.

The current market is generally characterized by extremely low vacancy rates and rapidly rising rents with the average estimated rent at $1,565.

The report finds the average estimated rents as more than twice what the average renter could afford.

The average renter wage for Park County is $12.79 an hour, which means one person working full time at the average renter wage could afford monthly rent of $665. 

Currently, 991 households earn less than $14,999 per year, but there are only 221 homes with available subsidies for those households.

For perspective, here are the median sales prices of single-family homes and the average number of days on the market for other counties across Montana. 

Some good news, the HRDC along with the Park County Community Foundation and other developers have completed several affordable housing projects and the housing needs assessment created a housing action group which will draft a housing action plan in the coming weeks.

HRDC Associate Director and Community Development Director Tracy Menuez said they look to have several public feedback sessions this winter for the housing action plan draft.

Park County Community Foundation Program Director Barb Oldershaw said gatherings of the housing coalition in 2020 and 2021 worked to establish a framework to address concerns about access to housing in Park County.

"The recently released Housing Needs Assessment further clarifies the extent of current housing needs by capturing key facts and figures to explain the mismatch between available housing and the large number of would-be residents seeking a home," Oldershaw said.

You can find more about the 2021 Park County Housing Needs Assessment and the Park County Housing Coalition here.

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