Experts, data: Pandemic worsened western MT's affordable housing crisis

David Erickson

Like more than half of Missoula residents, Mark Gibbons and his wife Pam don’t own their home and instead have sent a rent check to their landlord for the past 23 years.

They love their nice little house near the University of Montana, where they raised their two sons. Pam works at a local grocery store and Mark is an author and teacher. He was named Montana’s Poet Laureate in 2021. So, as they near retirement age, it came as a shock when they got a call from their landlord notifying them that they were being evicted from their home after nearly a quarter of a century.

The family that owns their house has decided to take advantage of record-high prices and sell. A local Realtor estimated it’s going to be listed for nearly $700,000, far beyond their reach. So they’ve had to scramble to find another place to rent in Missoula, where median home sales prices and rents have skyrocketed in the last decade.

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“When you’ve lived in a place as long as I’ve lived in this place, it becomes your place,” Gibbons

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