Friday, January 28, 2022

Play

The Indiana House passes a controversial bill barring schools from teaching about Critical Race Theory; and President Biden pledges to place a Black woman on the Supreme Court for the first time.

Play

Justice Stephen Breyer formally announces his retirement; the Dept. of Education will help students who fell behind during the pandemic; and AZ lawmakers consider a bill granting them control over elections.

Play

Free COVID tests by mail but some rural Americans need to go the extra mile; farmer storytellers join national campaign to battle corporate consolidation; specialty nurses want more authority; and rare bat gets credit for the mythic margarita.

Build Back Better Act Could Help Address MT Housing Crisis, Advocates Say

Play

Monday, December 27, 2021   

Like many states across the country, Montana is facing a housing crisis. One organization says policies in the Build Back Better Act, still in Congress, could help more people find and afford homes.

Opponents of the bill say it's too costly. But Adrienne Bombelles, senior policy analyst with the Montana Budget and Policy Center, said it includes much-needed rental assistance, through the Housing Choice Voucher program.

Under the Build Back Better plan, she said, the program could receive an additional $26 billion.

"The Housing Choice Voucher program and its expansion is going to go a long way towards helping families living in poverty," said Bombelles, "or senior citizens living on low fixed incomes and those living with disabilities afford their rent."

More than 10,500 Montanans rely on the program for rental assistance.

Thirty-six percent are people living with disabilities, 32% are older Montanans and 26% are single parents. But the average waitlist for the Housing Choice Voucher program in Montana is 25 months.

Bombelles noted that housing affordability isn't the only concern. Because the state is mostly rural, housing supply also is an issue.

According to the National Low Income Housing Coalition, Montana needs about 17,700 more homes that are affordable and available for renters with extremely low incomes.

Bombelles said housing advocates in the state see a few ways to increase the supply, such as increasing the state's investment.

"Also better leverage the federal dollars that are coming to the state, especially in the form the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program," said Bombelles. "To boost our supply, to subsidize the construction and maintenance of homes that are affordable to people living on low incomes."

The Build Back Better Act would provide $250 million to small, rural towns specifically for building more affordable housing.

While the task is great and the pandemic has made it greater, Bombelles said it's still possible to tackle.

"This problem is not insurmountable," said Bombelles. "We have solutions, and our nation is wealthy. We have the resources to create these investments for our people. It's just finding the path forward and finding the will to do these things."

Although Sen. Joe Manchin - D-W.Va. - has said he will vote no on the package, Democrats have vowed to move forward with a vote in 2022.




get more stories like this via email
Solar energy would have been used to replace carbon-based power sources under Arizona's proposed clean-energy plan. (andreiorlov/Adobe Stock)

Environment

Frustrated environmental and clean-energy advocates say after four long years of debate and compromise, regulators sent Arizona back to the starting …


Social Issues

When North Dakotans head out to cast their ballots later this year, there is a chance some will do so in a voting center and not a designated …

Social Issues

South Dakota continues to grapple with its low ranking when it comes to paying schoolteachers, but the issue is getting focus in 2022, including a …


Older Washingtonians take more prescription drugs on average and so are disproportionately affected by rising drug costs. (kmiragaya/Adobe Stock)

Health and Wellness

Washington state lawmakers are considering a measure to limit the growing cost of prescription drugs. Senate Bill 5532 would establish a …

Environment

The Maryland Air National Guard is considering a proposal to establish airspace where military planes would fly as low as 100 feet over the Pennsylvan…

The new grants are via the 2019 Rebuild Illinois capital program, which also calls for $25 billion to repair roads and bridges. (Adobe Stock)

Environment

The state of Illinois is allocating nearly a quarter-billion dollars to support new downstate transit and ports projects. Roughly half will go …

Health and Wellness

Advocates and faith groups are calling for more investments in harm reduction across the state, as new provisional data shows overdose deaths have …

Social Issues

More than 300 Kentucky farmers participated in the state's Farms to Food Banks program last year, and at a recent virtual rally, state officials said …

 

Phone: 303.448.9105 Toll Free: 888.891.9416 Fax: 208.247.1830 Your trusted member- and audience-supported news source since 1996 Copyright 2021