Housing? This ain’t it. Did you know that in a recent survey 2% of Teton County residents indicated they were camping?

The Western Greater Yellowstone Regional Housing Needs Assessment just came out. It contains valuable data on the state of our housing situation. It has some suggestions. And it takes the long view.

First, the facts for Teton County:

• Restricted housing units: 1,488 out of 13,300.
• Seasonal and second home units: 3,978.
• Rental units needed to stabilize rents at existing levels: 300.
• Ownership units needed to meet demand over next 5 years: 900.
• Median income, 4-person household: $96,800.
• Median single-family home listing price, July, 2014: $2.1 million.

Now the fix. These are some suggestions from the study for how to meet our goal of housing 65% of our workforce:

1. Establish a dedicated revenue source for housing, be it a tax or fee, optimally shared by visitors who benefit from the services provided by our workers.
2. Create a housing fund that pools revenues from existing exaction and mitigation requirements.
3. Require that accessory units be rented long-term and enforce requirement.
4. Revise the existing regulations to:

  • Increase consistency between town and county requirements.
  • Base exactions on housing demand created to account for the greater demand generated by larger homes.
  • Simplify fee-calculation methodology into per-employee and per-square-foot amounts.
  • Modify commercial mitigation requirements to account for total employment and simplify the requirements with fewer use categories.
  • Encourage voluntary real estate transfer assessments.
  • Assist developers who are building workforce-targeted market housing with waivers while assessing appropriate exactions when existing workforce housing is redeveloped into market housing.
  • Codify a process for crediting affordable housing units created before they are required or that are beyond the number required.
  • We should also have a central authority to coordinate the efforts of county, town and our three hard-working and dedicated housing organizations, the Teton County Housing Authority, the Jackson Hole Housing Trust, and Teton Area Habitat for Humanity.

    Most importantly of all, the study’s authors take a long-term view. They point out that the more and faster we grow, especially in the second home sector and in the lodging and dining sectors, the more pressure we put on our tight housing resources. Growth management is the one an overarching way to achieve our vision in the long run.

    I ask for your vote to push forward real housing solutions. Thank you.