A Sincere Open Letter to All Of The Urban Campers in Montana
Living in Montana has become a real struggle for many that live in the state. The lack of available housing and the high cost of real estate has resulted in many hard-working Montanans living in makeshift RV campgrounds. Many of the occupants of the so-called urban campgrounds are productive members of our communities and are fully employed.
For many, living on the street in a camp trailer or RV is a last resort. Applying for available housing can be a nightmare, and many people don't meet the rental qualifications required to secure housing. It has been a growing problem in Montana for quite some time. Efforts have been in many places in the state to limit the amount of time that people are able to stay in one place.
On one hand, I have a lot of sympathy for people that are currently living on the street. However, on the other hand, I feel that it is a choice made by those that choose to live the urban camping lifestyle. People aren't being forced to live in camp trailers. Much of the time, it's a choice. There are many places throughout the country that are much more affordable where housing is readily available, but people are choosing to stay in Montana, regardless of their living conditions.
Does Montana Have An Urban Camping Problem?
Many homes in the Bozeman area have been purchased and used as short-term vacation rentals which is only making the problem worse. Property owners are prioritizing turning a quick profit over the needs of people actually living in communities throughout the state.
The fact is, Montana was unprepared for all of the growth, and it has put a lot of stress on local communities. I recently visited Austin, Texas, and stayed at an RV resort with some friends. To my surprise, there were people that lived there full-time in their RVs. They had electricity, clean water, propane, and everything else they needed.
What Can Be Done to Solve The Problem?
In Montana, there aren't many places like that. People literally have nowhere to go, which is why many end up parked in neighborhoods on the side of the street. It's easy to judge someone else, but it's also important to realize that these are people, just like you and I.
There have been rumors that the City of Bozeman is working to ban short-term vacation rentals, but nothing has happened. Meanwhile, there are still people struggling to find a place to live. This is a new problem that has been created by the influx of people moving to Montana. If you go back 20 years, you never used to see people living on the street in places like Bozeman or Missoula, but now it has almost become normal.
I'm not writing this to bash urban campers or the state of Montana. I think we all need to have a better understanding of the problems that Montana residents are facing and try to focus on compassion instead of criticism and judgment. City planners, state officials, and residents should all be working together to find a solution to the problem. Complaining about it isn't going to fix anything.