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Thoughts on rentals

| March 22, 2023 2:00 AM

Housing and growth are undoubtably the most popular, and heated, topics of discussion in the Flathead Valley right now. There has been so much pushback to growth from people wanting to keep our hometowns small and sacred; to keep them “special.” But as we all know, the cat’s out of the bag, and people have fallen in love with our valley for the same reasons we love it. As someone who has watched the community grow over the past decade there is no question that we are in desperate need of a solution to our current housing crisis.

Currently I work as a property manager of multifamily housing in Columbia Falls and Whitefish. My day-to-day involves helping people find homes; I get to hear many of their stories.

There are nurses who wants to move here to work and help our community; newly engaged couples looking for their first place together to begin their lives, and college students looking to venture out on their own.

I am a military spouse whose husband just got moved back home after 20 years away from his family.

People move here for reasons just as diverse and their housing needs. In my role, I’ve quickly found that multifamily housing serves so many purposes. It’s a stepping stone for some waiting on a house, the perfect retreat for someone with a minimal lifestyle, or a more accessible space for an older couple.

The narrative that I have heard the loudest in protest is that our home is special. Let’s take a moment to dig into what actually makes it special.

The endless outdoor activities and sweeping views mountain views certainly create a picturesque lifestyle.

But at the core of it- what is really special — are the people we create that life with. I, for one, want a home where my kids and grandkids can grow and thrive around me, and I know I’m not alone in that sentiment.

Growth is happening in the valley and we cannot stop it. It’s so easy to say “not here,” when you already have your house and your land. But if we want our kids and the generations after them to be able to afford to be here, we have to be smart about development and housing.

We need to think carefully about the ramifications of our housing policy.  

Ultimately, we need to stop seeing multi-family as a four letter word.

Paige Maiden

Columbia Falls