Human Rights Group Says Bozeman Housing Ordinance Discriminatory

By Beacon Staff

BOZEMAN – The state’s Human Rights Bureau says it has found “reasonable cause” to believe that a Bozeman housing ordinance is discriminatory.

The ordinance prohibits more than four unrelated people from living together unless they meet certain criteria. Bozeman’s assistant planning director Chris Saunders says the rule has been in effect for more than 30 years and is meant to limit the “intensity of use” at a property. He says that too many occupants can cause conflicts with neighbors.

Montana Fair Housing, a Butte-based advocacy group, complained to the state about the ordinance in June, saying it prevents people from living together to offset costs. Deputy City Attorney Tim Cooper counters that more than four unrelated people can live together if they qualify for a conditional-use permit or as a “cooperative household.”

The city and MFH now have the option of taking the Oct. 8 finding to court or to a state Department of Labor hearings board.

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