Kat Cowley

My partner and I bought a house last June! We haven’t quite reached a year in our house out in Bonner yet and we still are struck with disbelief all the time.

Having spent the last decade in Missoula I had begun to accept that my dream of one day owning a home was dead. My partner had basically already reached that point. We were already paying just shy of what felt like a full mortgage payment each month and knew that more rent hikes were in the near future.

Last spring, we decided to at least give looking for a house a shot. We took the First Time Homebuyers class through Homeword, made sure our credit was good, talked through what our budget could be, and connected with a realtor who believed in us and aligned with our values.

As luck would have it – and it really must have been luck or some greater power – we were able to buy a house in our budget! BUT (and this is a big one) we could only make it happen thanks to money that I came into after the deaths of my mom and grandmother.

I’m grateful every day to the women who came before me who made this dream possible. Without them it would have taken us a very long time to continue to save up to cover a down payment, and who knows what the rental and housing markets would look like by then. Had we waited even a couple of months longer or decided against buying outside of Missoula we would still be stuck in that too-small apartment for who knows how much longer. I still have Zillow alerts turned on and from where I sit it seems like the housing market just keeps getting worse again.

That wasn’t the end of the stress, though. We are able to pay the mortgage and all of our bills each month, and for that I’m grateful, but just half of our monthly mortgage payment is half of my monthly income. Add on top of that the twice-yearly property tax bills and it’s enough to make anyone start to feel queasy.

We are young homeowners building our family on our own, and feel overburdened by our share of state property taxes compared to our income. While our day to day budgets are manageable it’s scary to consider what another property tax increase or medical emergency would bring!

For these reasons, we support the Montana Housing Fairness Credit, which is a tax credit targeted to residential homeowners and renters who are facing high property taxes as a share of their income.

This credit would be a long-term solution to property taxes that can help families struggling with housing costs get back on track. We’re very grateful to have our home and would love to continue to afford to live in beautiful Montana.