Survey asks Bozeman businesses how housing costs affect recruitment, retention

Posted at 3:04 PM, Nov 30, 2018
and last updated 2018-11-30 23:42:47-05

BOZEMAN – As Bozeman continues to complete its Housing Needs Assessment, the city is now asking businesses whether or not housing costs relate to retention and recruitment struggles.

Since 2015, the average median home price in Bozeman has increased by 50%, starting at $300,000 and rising to now $450,000. With the increase, the city is conducting a survey to determine the impact on businesses in the area.

The employer survey has been distributed to all of the Bozeman Chamber of Commerce businesses and is available on the city’s website.

The survey aims to give city officials insight into what type of housing workers are looking for and at what price. Bozeman Chamber of Commerce President Daryl Schliem said because of the booming economy, a shortage of housing is no surprise. However, he makes sure to tell his employers moving into town the struggles they will face.

“You are going to have to look very hard for your workforce, if not bring them with you, and if you do bring them with you, promote some of your key people here,” said Schliem.

Director of Community Development Marty Matsen believes a low unemployment rate paired with the high cost of living can be hard on local businesses.

“Well, I don’t think it takes much to go around our community and see the help wanted signs and realize that there is a huge need, especially at our lower pay levels,” said Matsen. “So I think that is really what the survey aimed at, is finding out how much of an issue that is for our employers.”

Deputy Mayor Chris Mehl relates housing in Bozeman to an escalator; the city is great at building larger homes but there are a few stairs missing.

“We are not so great at those first starter homes; condos, townhouses have to be included,” said Mehl. “That is a vital part of it, but also how many rental units do we have. So we will put our efforts through this survey to plugging those holes.”

Once the survey is complete and analyzed by an outside consultant, Mehl said the commission will come together to establish a goal of the different housing units the city wants to build in a year and at what price.

The Housing Needs Assessment is scheduled to be finished next spring.

Reporting by Mederios Babb for MTN News