This week, the Great Falls Landlords Association unanimously opposed a measure that would grant NeighborWorks Great Falls assistance from the Montana Board of Housing for its proposed Rockcress Commons development, a 124-unit apartment complex to be built south of Great Falls College-MSU. Local and state chapter President Ricky Linafelter submitted a letter to the Board, urging its members to deny funding for the project.
Linafelter argued that Great Falls no longer faces a housing shortage, and that the current rental market is tough on landlords:
There was a survey done approximately two years ago concerning the shortage of housing in the Great Falls area. When this survey was done, the shortage of housing was due, in part, to the extra short-term workers in town revamping the refinery. This project has since been completed. We now feel that there is an ample amount of housing available. I, myself, have 6 units of my 24 units vacant at this time. I surveyed the members at the meeting last night, and the majority of them have vacancies. The estate of my previous vice-president, who passed away last month, has 5 units of the 20 units vacant. I had one other landlord tell me he has 16 vacancies at this time.
The landlords also took issue with the prospect of NeighborWorks’ partner in the project, GMD Development, a for-profit company from Seattle, drawing income in Montana and receiving Montana grant money, while not contributing sufficiently to our state’s economy:
We do not feel that Montana grant money should be given to an out-of-state for-profit company. Furthermore, we do not feel that on out-of-state company should be able to acquire income generating property in Montana and not be required to pay property taxes as required by Montana residential property owners. In addition, we do not feel that an out-of-state company should benefit from money collected as Montana rental income and spend that money outside of Montana. This project will result in an out-of-state company benefitting from rental income generated in Montana without requiring that company to contribute to sustain Montana’s economy.
Read the letter in its entirety here.