A select group of Missoula City Council members will spend the next few weeks holding interviews with prospective members of a new committee intended to steward the city’s new Affordable Housing Trust Fund.
The Affordable Housing Citizens Oversight Committee will include four City Council appointments, three of which will have voting powers. The mayor also will make three appointments to the committee and Missoula County will make one.
“We saw a lot of interest from the community,” said City Council President Bryan von Lossberg. “I think we have 43 applications for the committee. It’s a sizable number of people.”
Under the ordinance that created the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, the oversight committee must have one member from a housing nonprofit, one member from the real estate or housing industry, and one member from banking or finance.
It must also include three community members, two of whom must have received some form of assistance in securing their housing within the last two years.
Together, the oversight committee will approve the Housing Trust Fund’s annual allocation plan. According to the city, “it will not make funding decisions for every project supported by the Trust Fund.”
“We’re breaking ground when it comes to setting up this group, and setting up members of the community to be good stewards of the funds that we have allocated to the Trust Fund,” said council member Mirtha Becerra. “All of us will do our best to be diligent in how we review the applications and select a good representation of the community to move forward.”
Von Lossberg on Wednesday appointed several City Council members to review applications and interview candidates, including Becerra. He also appointed council members Gwen Jones, Julie Merritt and Heidi West, who has advocated for a general taxation bond to help fund the Housing Trust Fund.
None of the City Council’s three conservative members were named to the interview committee.
To grow the Affordable Housing Trust Fund, city policy recommends directing no less than $100,000 each year from the city’s general fund into the account. The city contributed a hefty $750,000 into the fund during last year’s budget cycle to get it started.
The policy also directs the Missoula Redevelopment Agency to create a $1 million line item from tax increment financing to the fund.
Transportation, infrastructure and road district funds could also be applied, along with the sale of city-owned properties. The plan seeks to establish an account of $10 million within five years and anticipates roughly $3 million in annual fund contributions.
The oversight committee will recommend how that funding is spent to address Missoula’s range of housing needs.
“Everyone appreciates the magnitude of the issue in Missoula on housing,” said Jones. “A lot of thought and effort has gone into this, and we’re going to do the best we can.”