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Tranel outlines federal housing plan

by KATE HESTON
Daily Inter Lake | June 7, 2024 12:00 AM

Democratic congressional candidate Monica Tranel last month joined a chorus of calls to ban hedge funds from buying up homes as a way to alleviate the housing crisis at the federal level.

The measure, which already has support on Capitol Hill, is a component of Tranel’s three-step plan to boost affordable and accessible housing. Tranel, who is hoping to unseat Republican U.S. Rep. Ryan Zinke in November, released the housing roadmap in late May. 

“There's something going on that shows that housing is all about money, not just a place to live. Houses should be a part of a neighborhood … not part of a portfolio that is owned by somebody who lives on Wall Street,” Tranel told the Daily Inter Lake.

Tranel’s plan would see the tax code restructured to discourage corporate ownership of multiple homes or housing units. In 2021, investors bought nearly one in seven homes in cities around the United States, the most in two decades, according to The Washington Post. 

Democratic lawmakers in Congress introduced the End Hedge Fund Control of American Homes Act in December. The bill, which remains in committee, would force investment firms and other large corporations to sell off their portfolios of single-family homes over a 10-year period.  

Tranel’s plan also seeks to protect owners of mobile homes. 

“This part of the plan kind of came from conversations with people who were living in trailer parks in Bozeman and Columbia Falls who received eviction notices on short notice,” Tranel said.

The federal government regulates much of what happens with mobile homes, Tranel said. One policy option is to incentivize the creation of mobile home community cooperatives, where a group of people pool funds to purchase land, through legislation. 

Another policy change could be removing the permanent chassis requirement for manufactured homes or reducing regulatory barriers that limit the construction of manufactured homes, she said. 

Tranel’s plan also seeks to provide stability for seniors by requiring Medicaid and Medicare to provide adequate reimbursements for long-term care and incentivizing the construction of more housing for seniors through tax credits and community grants, for example. 

Zinke has also been outspoken about the housing crisis, yet has not released a comprehensive plan like Tranel’s. 

The congressman blamed the issue on “Bidenomics” in an April interview with NBC Montana.

"It comes from mismanagement of the economy, when prices goes up, inflation goes up, housing costs go up, and when interest rates go up, it's unaffordable for a lot of Montanans," Zinke told NBC Montana. 

While Zinke could not be reached for comment, his staff pointed toward previous efforts to address the housing crisis, including cosponsoring a bill to support housing for police officers, first responders and teachers.

Reporter Kate Heston can be reached at kheston@dailyinterlake.com or 758-4459.