Is there a solution to the housing issues in ski towns? It’s no secret that housing issues are plaguing our mountain towns, from Jackson Hole to Telluride and right here in Crested Butte. Inventory is low, there just aren’t many available units, for sale or rent, and what is available is unaffordable for many. Some may blame the housing shortage on the rise of Short Term Rentals (STRs). Some may say it’s the lack of developable land to expand local and employee housing.
You don’t have to look far to see the effects of ski town housing issues. In Crested Butte, many employees commute from Gunnison. In Aspen, employees are commuting from Carbondale or even Glenwood Springs. In fact, in Vail and Aspen, less than 30% of the town’s employees actually live in town. Some may say, this is what a housing crisis looks like, when employees are having to commute further and further for work. So how do we find a solution to the widespread housing issues many of our ski towns are facing? Ideally we should be looking for ways to house 50% or more of our town’s employees and to accomplish this, maybe we should be looking to our friends in the north.
Whistler has found a way to house more than 75% of their town’s employees and in 2015 was housing an impressive 79% of the town’s employees. That’s a number not matched by any major ski town in the United States. So how are they doing it? The solution didn’t come overnight. Whistler has been working on avoiding a housing crisis for decades, starting with developing a housing authority and adopting a local bylaw requiring that commercial developers build or provide staff housing. Or they can give cash in lieu of construction which goes to the housing authority to create additional affordable housing. Perhaps our local housing authority needs to follow their example and re-evaluate their position on the local housing crisis right here in the valley. So is there a solution to the housing issues in ski towns?
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