Bozeman's 'Only Racially Diverse Neighborhood' at Risk

Thanks in part to an influx of remote workers, the Montana town faces soaring housing costs and practically non-existent vacancy rates.

March 4, 2021, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction

When Montana State University decided to reallocate its family and graduate student housing to undergraduates, they may have dealt a fatal blow to what one professor calls "Bozeman's only racially diverse neighborhood." The university-owned housing, writes Surya Milner in High Country News, was home to "custodians, researchers and tenure-track professors at the university," many of whom are now forced to relocate to more expensive housing in other parts of the city—or leave the city altogether.

Although the housing crisis in small, recreation-dependent towns predates the pandemic, "the recent influx of remote workers to towns like Bozeman has only exacerbated it." The Human Resource Development Council, a local nonprofit organization, is helping some of the displaced residents find affordable housing, a difficult task in a city with a rental vacancy rate of almost 0%.

"MSU’s vice president of university communications, Tracy Ellig, said that the decision to evict the current residents was not made lightly. Rather, he said, it was made for the benefit of the students, who are the university’s first priority." With the university's enrollment steadily rising, "more students and recent graduates are spilling into an already-strained housing market." Students like Anaya Paschal, president of MSU's Black Student Union, worry that losing the affordable university-owned housing will "be detrimental to the BIPOC community in Bozeman" and drive people of color away from the city.

Thursday, February 11, 2021 in High Country News

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