Due to unpredictable savings, the developer of the Trailview subdivision is struggling to continue to provide affordable housing.
An amendment to reduce financial hardship was passed unanimously at the February 22 city council meeting. Councilors voted to allow developer Jerry Dunker to sell 10 units of the Trailview project at market rate. The affordable housing development to the southwest of the intersection of Monegan and Voerman Roads was first approved by Council in May 2018.
The original state stated that all 58 units would be affordable. Half of them would be subject to deed conditions based on income and the other half would be reserved for local workers.
Dunker provided an update on development to the board and explained that the goal has always been for development to have 100% restricted act units. Unforeseen economic difficulties led him to request this modification of the initial plan.
“Our focus from the start was 100 per cent deed restricted, it didn’t evolve into that, that was our focus. Unfortunately, there were economic factors that we didn’t predict, I don’t think anyone didn’t,” Dunker told the council.
Due to rising construction material and labor costs, supply chain delays and material shortages, Dunker has asked the Board to approve an amendment that will allow it to sell 10 units at market price.
The average sale price for first homes sold in Trailview was $315,000. Home prices in the Trailview subdivision have risen 7.2% since 2020. By comparison, Dunker told the Council that prices for single-family homes in Whitefish rose 30% in 2021, bringing the average price to 1 .3 million.
He went on to say that there are currently no homes on the market priced below $500,000.
The Board voted unanimously to authorize the amendment with little further discussion. Dunker said people have reached out to him and asked how they can help. He is considering other options and will only use the amendment to sell 10 units at market rate if he has to.
“We’re not going to put them on the market right away and try to sell them,” he said. “I know we can, but we want to look at some options to keep them affordable.”
During the public hearing, Ben Johnson, a resident of the Trailview neighborhood, spoke in favor of Dunker, saying, “apart from the federally supported low-income housing projects, Trailview has offered more deed-restricted units than any other development in Whitefish and is fully privately funded.
He added that Dunker is very sensitive to the needs of Trailview residents and that the community should support Dunker.
There are currently 22 owners in the development and seven homes under contract and under construction; development is halfway.
The remainder of Trailview’s 58 units are expected to be completed in approximately two years.