Rob Hart came to Sandpoint Idaho in 2018, seeking what has drawn so many to the little North Idaho city: a good quality of life.

And considering what he was looking for – a town of fewer than 10,000 people that was near a ski hill and a beach – Hart said, “It was very affordable compared to other places.”

After decades of mostly steady increases, the relative affordability that drew him to the area had disappeared. Housing prices in Bonner County jumped 57% in the last year alone and made the median sale price of a home $600,000 in June, according to Redfin.

Meanwhile, an opportunity to do something about it emerged when the nonprofit Bonner Community Housing Agency announced it was seeking a new executive director.

Build relationships among developers, landowners and city employees

Now Rob Hart will need to harness the power of private developers, landowners and employers. He will need people interested in making not just a profit but a difference by helping to carve out opportunities for the middle class, even if they could make more money by selling luxury homes.

Instead of using public housing subsidies, the program will allow the housing agency to partner with the private sector to facilitate construction of new housing for middle-class county residents and to price it at a cost of no more than 30% of their income. Read more


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