Montana Community Moves Forward with Plans for a Tiny House Development

The board of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency approved funding to move plans ahead.

A row of tiny homes behind a conventional house in Seattle. (AP Photo/Elaine Thompson)

Plans for the construction of a low-cost tiny home community near a food bank in Missoula, Montana moved forward Thursday reports the Missoulian.

The plans for the community began over two years ago when Homeward, a local nonprofit focused on using “sustainable methods to provide safe, healthy homes,” purchased 10 tiny homes.

As Next City has seen, cities across the United States are exploring tiny homes, often as a strategy to address housing affordability crises.

The houses were to be originally used in the Bakken oil fields until a major economic downturn in the oil market, and are now held in Missoula’s wastewater treatment plant.

The board of the Missoula Redevelopment Agency (MRA) concordantly approved up to $93,673 to reimburse Homeword for preparation of the site — owned by a community land trust — where the new tiny homes will be built.

“This project presents MRA with the opportunity to assist with the provision of six new, permanently affordable, owner-occupied housing units at a time when home ownership for low- and middle-income households is a major challenge in Missoula,” MRA director Ellen Buchanan told the board, according to the Missoulian.

Homeword’s housing development director Heather McMilin, said clean up costs are high because the site was previously a car lot and repair site. The reimbursement will cover water and sewer extensions, irrigation ditch modifications, curb and sidewalk improvements and professional services.

Homeword intends to put five 550-square-foot, two-bedroom homes and a single 450-square-foot, one-bedroom home on foundations on the site in addition to new facilities and revamping the community garden.

Originally, the two-bedroom home was to be sold at $100,000 and the single bedroom for $89,000, but the Missoulian reports that due to an increase in construction costs caused in part by President Donald Trump’s new tariffs, prices had to be increased.

“Everytime somebody tweets something out, prices go up,” said McMillan, according to the Missoulian. “In today’s market it’s damn near impossible to estimate construction costs. We are hoping to attract smaller contractors, but the cost of materials are just outrageous right now.”

Households earning up to 80 percent of Missoula’s median income — $56,400 for two people or $70,400 for four people — will be able to purchase the two-bedroom homes while an individual earning 100 percent of the median income will be able to purchase the single-bedroom home. McMilin told the Missoulian she believes many will still consider the homes a viable option due to the affordable housing crisis.

Brianna is an Emma Bowen Foundation Fellow with Next City for summer 2018. She's a rising senior at Penn State University, majoring in media studies. She intends to graduate in May 2019. 

Tags: affordable housingtiny house

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