BUTTE – Economic leaders believe in order for Butte to have a healthy economic future, affordable housing for first-time and middle-income home buyers will be necessary.
“Housing is incredibly important to economic development. In order to have a strong workforce you have to have somewhere for them to live,” said Director of Butte Local Development Corp. Joe Willauer.
Butte’s greatest housing need is more homes described as mid-range, working-class homes.
“There’s a lot of opportunities for kind of low-end homes that would probably need a lot of work. There are certainly opportunities throughout the region to buy giant ranches on the side of the river, but really that sweet spot in the middle like your normal working person house, we have a lack of inventory,” said Willauer.
Butte’s housing values are rising but still remain comparatively low to other growing areas in the state. But the region is seeing housing costs going up.
“We’re seeing a bigger increase in communities like Ennis, Whitehall, Northern Jefferson County, Twin Bridges, Sheridan because they’re feeling that flex over from Bozeman,” said Willauer.
Now Butte offers free classes for home buyers, the problem is that once a home that fits in that medium range gets on the market, it doesn’t stay there very long.
“Houses come on the market and they’re only on for one or two days because there are so many people wanting to buy, so I think that’s the biggest issue is getting houses and keeping them on the market for more people to look at them,” said Courtney Edwards, who heads the first-time buyers class.
Economic leaders hope more construction of these types of houses will spur the economy.