Vail calls on short-term rental owners to help amid housing, staffing crisis￼
Email mirrors similar ask made by the Eagle County School District earlier this year
On Friday, Dec. 2, the town of Vail sent out a letter to 230 homeowners and property managers that hold short-term rental licenses in the town, asking them to help provide winter housing for essential employees of the town.
“The town of Vail is urgently seeking additional housing units for essential workers this winter season,” the letter reads. “The Town is asking all second and primary homeowners to consider a long-term or seasonal lease with the Town of Vail for this purpose. We are asking all property managers to forward the message to clients who might be interested in such a lease.”
Russ Forest, Vail’s town manager, said on Friday, Dec. 9, that the “impetus” for the letter was two-fold. First, the town was “desperate” to fill seven “key and important” bus driver positions. However, the hope is the email could cast a wider net for the broader business community and “essential workers,” as the email put it.
Forest said the town sees this as a bit of an “experiment” to see if the town could create a “network, potentially connecting anyone with a unit to somebody that needed it in the business community.”
“The thought is maybe if we got a few bites or if we got interest, would this be something we could do for the business community as a whole?” Forest said.
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The idea, Forest added, came from the school district, which made a similar ask of the Eagle County community earlier this year.
In August, just before the start of the school year, Superintendent Philip Qualman sent out a letter to all Eagle Count property owners, urging the community to put vacant houses, condos, lock-offs, caretaker units and empty bedrooms to use for district employees.
“We offer jobs daily that are turned down because applicants can’t secure housing,” Qualman wrote in the letter.
Forest reported a similar challenge with bus driver applicants who reportedly said they could not take the position if they didn’t have a home.
The school district’s letter did result in significant responses from the community, with around 125 rentals added to the district’s internal classifieds board and inventory for employees by Sept. 1. The challenge, however, was that still many of these did not represent affordable or desirable opportunities for staff.
Forest said he had heard of only four responses to the town’s email as of Friday, Dec. 9, and was not sure if any had been successful in providing housing to necessary employees.
The email was sent out to 230 emails that are registered with the town as either a short-term rental property owner and/or a short-term rental property manager, the latter of which represents around 2,500 short-term rentals in Vail.
The town’s email specifically calls for “studio, one- or two-bedroom properties including vacant ADUs (accessory dwelling units) and EHUs (employee housing units).”
“The essential employees needing housing are vital to our town’s operations that help make Vail a premier community,” the email reads, adding that any interested parties should contact to Matthew VanEyll, Monday through Thursday, at email@example.com.