Lawmakers this week introduced the Forest Service Flexible Housing Partnerships Act to help address the housing shortage in rural and mountain communities. The bipartisan legislation would strengthen the authority of the United States Forest Service to lease underutilized administrative sites to address local needs, including for building affordable housing. Senator Michael Bennet, a Colorado Democrat, introduced the legislation. Bennet says, “This bill will build on our efforts in the 2018 Farm Bill to help communities and the Forest Service work together to build more affordable housing.”
The 2018 Farm Bill secured the authority for the Forest Service to lease underused administrative sites to localities in exchange for in-kind contributions, including housing construction and improvement or maintenance of federal facilities. As a result of the housing crisis in the West, the Forest Service currently experiences a severe staffing shortage. The legislation will also help the agency provide housing for its firefighters and other critical positions to better serve the communities they work for.