Whitefish Legacy Homes Program

“The City of Whitefish is serious about implementing the recommendations in the 2017 Strategic Housing Plan. We have developed the Legacy Homes Program with the goal of creating permanently affordable workforce housing in Whitefish.”

— Mayor John Muhlfield —

The Whitefish Legacy Homes Program is an initiative to create permanently affordable workforce housing in the city of Whitefish, Montana.

The Need

The 2016 Whitefish Housing Needs Assessment, adopted by the Whitefish City Council, shows 980 affordable units needed by 2020 (580 rental/400 ownership). The 2017 Strategic Housing Plan, also adopted by the City Council, identified Inclusionary Zoning as one tool to build affordable housing. The Whitefish Legacy Homes program uses inclusionary zoning (IZ) to regulate the construction of affordable housing units in all new housing developments within City limits.

The Goal

The goal of the program is to create housing units that are affordable to the Whitefish workforce – those earning between 60% – 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI). In 2019, this income range encompasses households earning between approximately $32,000 – $64,000 per year. (See table below.) The Whitefish Legacy Homes program was unanimously approved by the Whitefish Planning board in 2019. It is currently under review by the Whitefish City Council.

Community Partners

What is Inclusionary Zoning (IZ)?

A regulation requiring a certain percentage of homes to be deed restricted for long-term affordability. The current draft requires 20% of the total project be deed restricted and targeted toward a certain Area Median Income (AMI) I depending on whether it is a rental or ownership product.

What is Area Median Income (AMI)?

AMI is the ‘Area Median Income’ established by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development annually. It’s the average household income for each county across the US. The AMI for Flathead County for a 2-person household (the average in Whitefish) is $53,400. This is also referred to as ‘100% AMI’. AMI is used as a baseline of comparison for determining real estate affordability and market availability. (CLICK HERE FOR FLATHEAD COUNTY INCOME LIMITS)

Definition of ‘Affordable’

‘Affordable Housing’ is defined as roughly 30% or less of gross income, meaning that a household should spend about one-third of their earnings on housing, no matter their income level.

  • For homeowners, the City of Whitefish defines an affordable mortgage as one-third or 33.33% of gross monthly household income. The Whitefish Legacy Homes Program aims to create home ownership opportunities for prospective home buyers in the 80% – 120% AMI range.
  • For renters, an affordable rent payment is defined as 30% of gross monthly income. The Whitefish Legacy Homes Program aims to create home rental opportunities for renters in the 60% – 80% AMI range.

How the Program Works