Tackling Housing Needs  in Small Towns

Watch this recorded series of webinars aimed at helping people in  rural communities take action on their housing challenges.

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October 25, 2022:       Where to Start on Housing in Your Community

November 30, 2022:   Improving Aging Housing Stock, Maintaining Supply

January 25, 2023:        Developing New Homes, Increasing Supply

February 22, 2023:      Rural Housing Stories


Housing Resources

Headwaters Economics The Economic Profile System is a free, easy-to-use tool that provides access to 17 socioeconomic reports. Customized reports are available for U.S. communities, counties, and states and can be downloaded as Excel or PDF files.

Greater Gardiner Community Council  Scroll down the page to find the Gardiner Area Housing Plan and Needs Assessment Document.

Housing 101guide is chock full of introductory housing information like definitions, acronyms, and dozens of housing supportive organizations for Idaho, Montana, and Wyoming. A second document, Housing Basics: A guide for community lead housing projects answering the question "Where do I begin?" is helpful for community groups interested in working on their housing challenges.  Resources developed by the University of Idaho’s Western Community Assessment and Peer Learning Networks of which MSU Extension is a participant.


Rural Housing Webinar:  Moving In, Moving Out, and Moving Over: The Future of the Rural Housing Supply

Forsyth, MontanaMajor demographic shifts have forever changed the face of rural communities which has resulted in a housing shortage. In the next 20 years, nearly three-quarters of rural owner-occupied housing will turn over as seniors and baby boomers move out.  A broad examination of the trends related to these moves – such as workforce housing, a tight labor market, and changing residential preferences – were discussed. 

This webinar will help you better understand the housing situation in your community and give you some ideas on what you can do to help address the challenge.

Presented by Ben Winchester, Rural Brain Gain Author and Reimagining Rural Keynote Speaker.

Here is the recording of the housing webinar.


Start with a Community Discussion

Bringing folks from across the community to talk about the housing situation is a great way to start to work on the issue.  Understanding how the issue impacts all corners of your community is an important first step for reaching out to housing experts that can help.

Below are a few key questions that may help your community move your conversation forward.  Ask one question at a time and get input from everyone.  Take notes on a large whiteboard or large flipchart paper.  Some questions that might be helpful include:

  • What from the webinar stood out to you? 
  • What questions do you still have?
  • What are the key housing challenges in our community?
  • What are some advantages we have with regard to housing?  (Or, what are the strengths we have with regard to housing.  What is going well?)
  • What resources do we have that we might be able to use to address our challenges?  (either in your community or nearby enough to help)
  • Who is interested in working more on this issue?

Ask questions one at a time and get feedback from everyone.  Ask people to track down resources or answers to questions the group has.  Ask if the group wants to meet again when there is more time to discuss the issues.  Developing housing is expensive and technical.  Reach out to the Montana housing resources listed in the toolkit above.  Please reach out if there is any way MSU Extension can help.