Can Tenants Take Back Bozeman?


Snow blankets the roofs of residential homes and new luxury developments in Bozeman, Montana, as the battle lines are drawn. Luxury construction is pushing locals out of their homes, but Bozemanites are not going quietly. A spirited resistance movement, led by Bozeman Tenants United, has exploded onto the scene to confront this wave of outdoorsy gentrification. And this movement, like Joey Morrison, the co-founder of the tenants union, has been winning.


The Gentrification Struggle

Bozeman, once a neighborhood of modest homes, now faces a relentless influx of multi-story condos. These new builds represent the business vision driving the area toward its apparent destiny: a Western-themed amusement park positioned to attract outdoors enthusiasts, remote workers, and second-time home buyers. However, this vision comes at a cost. As luxury construction booms, downtown becomes overrun with boutiques peddling Old West-themed pop art and high-end cowboy hats. Tourists flock to hundreds of vacation rentals, while the workers powering this economy struggle to find affordable housing. Many end up homeless, living in shelters or vehicles on the city’s margins.

The Rise of Bozeman Tenants United

Joey Morrison and Benjamin Finegan co-founded Bozeman Tenants United after the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the city’s affordable housing shortage. Their campaign against second-home short-term rentals gained traction, fueled by widespread frustration. Empty Airbnbs dotted every block, while longtime residents grappled with the challenge of finding a place to live in their city. The strategy worked: in October 2023, the city commission voted to ban whole-house short-term rentals in Bozeman, grandfathering in existing ones. The union, once a scrappy group, now boasts over 250 dues-paying members.

Controversy and Debate

The ban sparked a heated debate. Supporters believe it will free up units for those struggling to find affordable housing. Jackson Sledge, a leader of Bozeman Tenants United, emphasized the need for bold action against the housing crisis. However, opponents argue that the ban infringes on property owners’ rights and affordability. Commissioner Christopher Coburn, the sole dissenting vote, expressed concern about allowing existing short-term rentals to continue. Riley Rivers, a resident, urged the commission to consider the facts rather than emotional arguments. Despite the controversy, the ban aims to address the housing crisis, even if its immediate impact remains uncertain.


Bozeman’s struggle reflects a broader tension between development and community well-being. As the battle continues, Bozemanites fight to reclaim their city from gentrification’s grip.

By Andrea Wilson

Andrea Wilson is a talented junior content and news writer at Scope Sweep. With a passion for writing and a dedication to delivering high-quality content, Andrea has quickly established herself as a valuable contributor to the team. Graduating from the prestigious University of Sydney, she brings a strong academic foundation and a keen eye for detail to her work. Andrea's articles cover a wide range of topics, from breaking news to informative features, ensuring that readers are well-informed and engaged. With her ability to research and present information in a clear and concise manner, Andrea Wilson is committed to providing readers with accurate and captivating content. Stay connected and up-to-date with Andrea's compelling articles on Scope Sweep

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