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Whitefish Council considers support for rental assistance program

by HEIDI DESCH
Daily Inter Lake | December 4, 2023 12:00 AM

Whitefish City Council on Monday is expected to approve spending $200,000 to help fund a rental assistance program being launched by a housing nonprofit.

Council is set to approve an agreement between the city and Housing Whitefish as part of the creation of the Whitefish Workforce Assistance Program. Expected to launch in 2024, the program would provide monthly rental assistance to bridge the affordability gap. 

City Council meets at 7:10 p.m. at City Hall, 418 E. Second St.

Housing Whitefish, which is also partnering on the program with the Whitefish Chamber of Commerce, received a favorable response from Council after presenting its program in September. 

The city would use funds for the one-time contribution from its affordable housing fund that has about a half million set aside for affordable housing projects and programs in the current budget. 

Based on suggestions from Council, the program has been updated to provide assistance to those with an income of 100% of Area Median Income rather than 120% as originally suggested. In addition, prioritization will be given to applicants with at least one household member working in the city limits rather than the larger 59937 ZIP code. 

The income limit for an individual applying is $58,800 and for a household of two it is $67,200. 

Applicants must work an average of 32 hours per week and currently live in the city or are looking for housing in Whitefish. Payments would be made directly to the housing providers and applications are accepted on a quarterly basis. 

The Whitefish Chamber has committed $25,000 in funding to the program and Housing Whitefish is fundraising for an additional $50,000. Housing Whitefish will also use $25,000 for the program provided through the Explore Whitefish Community Sustainability Fund contribution.  

After start-up and administrative costs, Housing Whitefish anticipates it will be able to serve 60 households at $4,800 each, which is the cap in assistance. 

ALSO ON the agenda are three public hearings. 

Council will consider a resolution to increase the fee for vending at City Beach for the Fourth of July. An average of seven vendors set up booths at the park to sell food and drinks prior to the fireworks show over Whitefish Lake. 

The Parks and Recreation Department charges vendors a fee of $75 and is now looking to increase to $150 per vendor. 

Council will consider a resolution approving business registration fees, formerly referred to as business license fees. Most of the fees are staying the same, but two proposed changes are adding a new fire inspection no show fee at $55 and eliminating a $50 application fee for short-term rentals. 

The no show fee is the result of situations in which businesses, primarily short-term rentals, schedule a fire safety inspection appointment and fail to show up. 

Council is set to vote on an ordinance to amend its Lake and Lakeshore Protection Regulations. The changes are to promote natural shoreline restoration and dynamic gravel beach installations over rip rap and retaining walls, along with other recommended changes and minor housekeeping amendments. 

Council will vote on a resolution to create a zero-cost rate for city employees for children in the Parks and Recreation Department After School and Summer Day Camp programs. The program is expected to cost the city $13,680 for every 10 children enrolled and covers the cost of one additional counselor per program. 

Features Editor Heidi Desch may be reached at 758-4421 or hdesch@dailyinterlake.com.