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Missoula needs housing sold to families, not corporations

I am a Missoula teacher, but as a renter amid the housing crisis, I am constantly concerned that my housing situation will become unstable and that my rent will rise to a level that I cannot afford.

Instead of solving the problem, corporate-owned properties and developers like Cole Bergquist are exacerbating it. Our property management company, Missoula Property Management, rents a house a few blocks from where I live.

I looked up the rental on their website out of curiosity. They are asking $3,200 per month for a four-bedroom rental (the same size as the house we currently rent). This is precisely the same as the rent we pay. “Sorry, applicants must meet approval criteria- No additional deposit or co-signer will be accepted,” the listing says, in addition to the absurd amount.

To meet the requirements, a family must earn $9,600 per month, have $7,200 in cash on hand, and all adults must have a credit score of 700. Children in our community suffer when rentals become unaffordable for families with one or two incomes.

According to a Missoula Current article, 50 homeless families with children in Missoula on any given night. I was intrigued as to who could charge such a high price. So I used the county’s property search database to look up the property’s owner. Cade LLC owns the house (2001 Strand Avenue). Perhaps I’m naive, but I was surprised to learn that a corporation rather than a person owned the property.

I started looking at Cade LLC because I was intrigued. Brent Russ is the director/agent of Cade LLC, according to the website opencorporates.com. The postal address, however, is “C/O Cole Bergquist.” Cole Bergquist, who announced his plans to turn the land where the Missoulian building now stands into “The Reed,” a 48-unit “upscale” structure with a rooftop pool under the name Cade 2, is the same Cole Bergquist. He announced his plans to develop the land where the Missoulian building currently sits into “The Reed,” a 48-unit “upscale” structure with a rooftop pool under the name Cade 2.

Cole Bergquist, whose investing partner Aaron Wagner sent nasty and improper direct messages to opponents of the development. Cade LLC also sparked controversy last year when they requested and received authority from the City Council to demolish historic brick residences on 4th Street in the university area to construct luxury condominiums.

“The owner must assist pay for the relocation of the historic properties and add affordable housing for 20% of the units,” the municipal council negotiated with Bergquist. After seeing Cade LLC’s definition of cheap at 2001 Strand Ave, I doubt that the remaining 80% of the apartments will be affordable to most Missoulians.

Cade LLC is not only a developer but also a real estate investor. ACCORDING TO THE COUNTY’S PROPERTY SEARCH, Cade LLC owns six properties in Missoula. How many properties in Missoula that might be owned and inhabited by a local family are owned and occupied by a profit-seeking corporation?

Look into who owns a home in your area if you find an exorbitant rental. Begin to distribute the information. I’m not suggesting Missoula doesn’t need improvement. We’re in the midst of a housing crisis. Thus, additional housing is required. On the other hand, Missoula needs developers who are concerned about the requirements of our community.

Families, not companies, should purchase houses. We want rental properties that are affordable to families. Compassion is required, not greed.