WHITEFISH — Affordable housing has been a hot topic for many years, especially in towns like Whitefish where residents depend on the wealth of people coming into the community. But now a unique housing advocacy group has formed with the sole agenda of being heard.
“I don't want the word housing crisis in my town. I don't want it to be a thing,” said Rebekah Alcott, a Housing For___ supporter.
Housing For is a group of people who are trying to bring attention to the housing crisis in Whitefish through peaceful rallies and speaking up at city council meetings. This group is a unique housing advocacy effort because they bring real-life perspective to the discussion.
“It's not a good feeling to not be able to afford to live in your hometown,” said Aaron Roberts, Housing For___ advocate.
“You know, not singing Kumbaya, but where we can all welcome each other. And ebb and flow and live. And I don't want to move away. You know, I might want to go and check out the world on my own terms, but I don't want to have to be forced out and I am this close to having to go,” said Alcott.
Some of the members of Housing For were born and raised in Whitefish and understand the reliance the town has on tourism. After the influx of people that moved to the area during COVID some animosity has developed over the amount of second and seasonal homes. With the lack of available attainable houses some locals are being pushed out when they would rather stay and learn to live with the newcomers.
“We just can't stay silent any longer about it. There's a lot of growth, there's a lot of great things happening. And then there's just like a lot of other things that just aren't happening. You got to be the squeaky wheel, or people won't do anything about it,” said Gabriel Layton, Housing For___ Organizer.
This group is advocating for attainable housing or community housing which is not subsidized housing but rather affordable houses for those in the area earning the Area Median Income. The group started about a month ago because they realized that attainable housing is a widespread concern.
“A lot of people talk about it independently amongst themselves or their peer groups, their friends, their families, and to really affect change we all kind of need to come together collectively, and start demanding change,” said Sienna Broglie, Housing For___ supporter.
The efforts of Housing For are still new and they are trying to work out exactly what their long-term goals are but in the meantime, they will continue to voice their concerns about the lack of community housing in Whitefish.
"Taking that next step and actually going to the city about it and saying, hey, we need your help. We need you. This is what you're here for. Help us help everyone," said Alcott.