As Missoula and other Montana cities struggle with tight housing supplies and rising prices, Gov. Greg Gianforte on Friday said the state will invest up to $15 million to fund more affordable housing projects.

Gianforte's decision comes a day after the Economic Transformation, Stabilization and Workforce Development Advisory Commission voted unanimously to recommend the funding.

“Supply chain disruptions and shutdowns from COVID-19 have limited the housing supply, driven up prices, and made finding an affordable home increasingly out of reach for many hardworking Montanans,” Gianforte said. “These funds will provide nearly 1,000 affordable homes for low income, elderly, and disabled Montanans.”

According to Missoula housing officials, the city needs up to 600 new units of housing annually to keep pace with current population changes. Other cities are in a similar position, facing a tight housing supply and rising costs.

Affordable housing has become a challenge as well, one the City of Missoula has placed on its priority list. Among other things, it has established an affordable housing trust fund, secured several properties for redevelopment to include affordable housing, and it has partnered on a number of other housing projects with the private sector.

A survey by the Montana Department of Commerce found that COVID-19 related worker shortages, supply chain disruptions and rising prices in key building materials, such as lumber, have pushed development costs for affordable housing up by nearly 17%.

Gianforte said the funds announced on Friday will provide “critical gap financing” to ensure affordable housing projects, which the state has already invested in, will get finished and opened for occupancy.

“In total, these funds will ensure up to 17 affordable housing projects in the development pipeline can be successfully completed to provide nearly 1,000 quality, affordable homes spread throughout the state to Montana’s lower wage workforce, seniors, and persons with disabilities,” the Governor's Office said in a statement.