New Data Shows Many Richland County Families Struggling to Find Affordable Housing

Sep 06, 2018

Today, the Montana Budget and Policy Center (MBPC) unveiled county-level rental housing affordability data through an innovative online interactive map. Research shows that there is no county in Montana where a minimum wage worker can afford a rental home at fair market rent. In Montana, 46 percent of all renters are cost burdened – paying more than 30 percent of their household income toward housing costs. A link to the map can be found here ( and the Richland County fact sheet can be found here


“Affordability is a major obstacle to housing security and quality of life, and a growing number of Montanans are paying levels of rent that severely strain the household budget,” said Heather O’Loughlin, co-director, Montana Budget and Policy Center. “This tool presents a snapshot of housing needs across the state and will help community members, advocates, and policymakers advance policy solutions that ensure every Montanan has a home.”

Other findings from the research show that average fair market rent for a two-bedroom home in Richland County is $766, while rent that a low-income family can afford at 30 percent of their income is $545. As a result, 88.0% percent of low-income families in Richland County are considered rent burdened, facing housing costs that leave little for other needs, such as food, health care costs, and clothing.

The Montana Budget and Policy Center’s Housing Affordability Map is an interactive online resource that provides seven indicators of housing affordability and renter populations in each Montana counties. These indicators are:

- Percent of households that rent;

- Poverty rate for renter households;

- Fair market rent for a two-bedroom rental;

- Rental amount considered affordable for households living below poverty;

- Number of work hours needed to afford fair market rent; and

- Supply of affordable rental units; and

- Households living below poverty with high rental cost burden.

Despite overwhelming evidence that affordable housing stabilizes low-income families, supports a child’s ability to learn, and reduces income inequality in the economy, Montana does not invest state resources in affordable housing. Increasing state and federal investment will alleviate hardship among hardworking Montanans and build sustainable and prosperous communities that benefit all our neighbors.

Due to small populations of certain counties, MBPC combined several counties to provide a more reliable estimate. This applies for two indicators: renters living in poverty and housing cost burden for renters living in poverty. To create county groups, neighboring counties located in the same region of Montana were combined and the group estimate is reported for each county in that group.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization providing in-depth research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues. Our core focus is publishing credible and timely, and easy-to-understand reports on fiscal policies that impact low- and moderate-income Montanans. To learn more, visit

Montana Budget & Policy Center

Shaping policy for a stronger Montana.

MBPC is a nonprofit organization focused on providing credible and timely research and analysis on budget, tax, and economic issues that impact low- and moderate-income Montana families.