Viewpoint: Missoula needs homes sold to families, not businesses
Viewpoints are written by readers and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missoula mainstream.
I’m a teacher in Missoula, but as a tenant in the middle of the housing crisis, I constantly feel like my housing situation is unstable, terrified that my rent will go up to an amount I can’t afford.
Properties owned by companies and developers like Cole Bergquist amplify the problem rather than trying to help solve it. There is a house a few blocks from my house that is rented by our property manager, Missoula Property Management.
Out of curiosity, I looked up the rental on their website. The rental is a 4 bedroom (same size as the house we are currently renting) and they are asking $3,200/month. This is exactly double what we pay for our rental. In addition to requesting this absurd amount, the listing reads, “Sorry, applicants must meet criteria for approval – No additional deposits or co-signers will be accepted.”
This means that to meet the criteria, a family would need to earn $9,600 per month, have $7,200 up front, and all adults must have a credit score of 700. When rentals become unaffordable for one- or two incomes, the children of our community are suffering.
According to a Missoula Current article, every night in Missoula, 50 families with children are homeless. I became curious who would charge such an exorbitant amount. So I looked up the owner of the property in the county property search database. The house (2001 Strand Avenue) is owned by Cade LLC. I may be naive, but I was a bit surprised to find that the property was owned by a company rather than an individual.
Intrigued, I started researching Cade LLC. According to the opencorporates.com website, Brent Russ is the director/agent of Cade LLC. However, the mailing address given is “C/O Cole Bergquist”. The same Cole Bergquist who announced plans to develop the land where the Missoulian building currently stands into “The Reed,” a 48-unit “upscale” building with a rooftop pool under another trade name, Cade 2 .
The same Cole Bergquist whose investment partner, Aaron Wagner, sent insulting and inappropriate direct messages to people who oppose development. Cade LLC also caused controversy last year when they appeared before City Council seeking and ultimately winning approval to demolish historic brick homes on 4th Street in the University District to build luxury condos. .
The city council negotiated with Bergquist “requiring the owner to help pay for the relocation of the historic homes and to include affordable housing for 20% of the units.” After seeing Cade LLC’s definition of affordable at 2001 Strand Ave, I highly doubt that the remaining 80% of available units are even close to affordable for the majority of Missulians.
Cade LLC is not only in the development game, but also in the owner game. According to the County Property Search, Cade LLC owns 6 different properties in Missoula. How many homes in Missoula that could be owned and occupied by a local family are actually owned by a company trying to make a profit?
If you see an overpriced rental in your neighborhood, find out who owns the property. Start sharing information. I’m not saying Missoula doesn’t need development. We are in the midst of a housing crisis, of course we need more housing. But what Missoula needs are developers who care about the needs of our community.
We need homes sold to families, not corporations. We need affordable rentals for families. We need compassion, not greed