Find hope for housing on the Big Sky Housing Network
A Hill condo studio for $950 monthly. Two rooms in the Hidden Village, $550 and $600 respectively per month. A Firelight two-bedroom condo for $1,800 a month. These housing opportunities were recently posted on the Big Sky Housing Network’s Facebook page. Each garnered interest from a number of Facebookers hoping to secure a place to live in a town known for its housing frustrations.
But for a public group like this to succeed, someone has to man the controls. For the housing network, Regan Christian-Frederick is that man. He started the network in 2014.
Before Christian-Frederick came to Big Sky, he worked in the Michigan State Senate as a constituent relations director. Thousands upon thousands of people would reach out to him with questions, and his job was to point them to a resource, one after another.
Once in Big Sky, he took a job at the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce, where he began receiving call after call from people desperate for housing.
“Because there wasn’t really anyone to contact here at the time for that information,” Christian-Frederick said. “They were asking ‘Where can I live?’ ‘What can I do to find a place?’ and there just wasn’t a resource to point them to.”
That’s why Christian-Frederick launched the Big Sky Housing Network.
“And it took off,” he said. “The goal is to connect somebody with space to somebody without space.”
There are currently 3,200 or so members, which is nearly 1,000 more than the official population of Big Sky as of 2010, listed at 2,308 year-round residents.
With the network established, Christian-Frederick took it upon himself to continue moderating the posts and discussions. He struggled and put a lot of thought into what the forum’s identity should be—what its specific mission really was. Most recently he put the kibosh to posts offering up off-season only housing availability, which basically amounted to units more often booked as short-term vacation rentals. He said he’s got nothing against those types of rentals, but he didn’t want the network to advertise things only available for a month or two.
Christian-Frederick said he’s currently getting questions from people all over the country, hoping to relocate for at least the summer, asking, “I’ve got a job here, I’ve got a job there, now I just need to find a place to live, can you help?’”
He checks the network on his phone several times a day, approving member requests, posting relevant discussion topics and moderating comments and listings. He’ll let disagreements play out but, “It does get heated sometimes,” Christian-Frederick said. “People can be a little bit mean.”
If necessary, he’ll delete comments. But overall, it’s been a rewarding experience. “It’s a good resource for people,” he said. “I think every single person I know at least knows someone who has used it. It’s been great and I plan to keep doing it.”