Letter: Housing action now (please)
When my boss recently asked me a hypothetical question about what would cause me to leave my position, I blurted my answer before the timer even started: Housing. The valley has always been a larger financial burden than other areas of the country, but it has never felt impossible like it does now. It seems a post-pandemic fever has broken out, and truly gripped our community with a real estate frenzy that has simply left locals and would-be community impactors holding the short end of the COVID swab. Each home sells for $20,000 more than the last, and each lease manages to double without seeing a true improvement in amenities.
While recent “studies” claim short-term rentals may not be the problem compared to remote workers moving in droves, we should be looking at similar communities for guidance on how to mitigate the lasting damage to our home. Honolulu is actively working to reduce the number of short term rentals outside of “resort zones.” Breckenridge created a program aimed at rewarding landlords for renting to local workers. Glenwood Springs has a 200-foot radius rule, limiting short term rentals within the downtown district.
Why, do tell, would we not mimic efforts that similar markets are enacting in order to maintain its local workforce?
When our recent offer to purchase a home in Edwards for $50,000 over asking price was presented, we were practically laughed at by the Realtor. We were told we were better off buying a home in Miller Ranch. I would love to, if that waitlist wasn’t as long as the line of cars on the frontage road each day. While the down payment program is commendable, local families cannot compete with investment hunters snatching up two bedroom condos like toilet paper in 2020. It feels like many of us are fighting a wildfire of investors with our squirt guns. Many locals don’t need your money, they (we) need your legislation and action. As an idea (that many may hate), halt building permits of new hotels until residential housing is secured for the property’s forecasted workforce.
As a community of over 50,000, we should look to sell and rent first to our local neighbors. As a local professional of over 15 years, I am calling on all local officials to act immediately on housing reform. I don’t know who we expect to sustain this community next year when current leases are purged to doubling prices and relocating Zoomers. This amazing place is my home, and I am willing to fight for it as long as I can. While many ill-informed may think our locals are lazy, I don’t know many of us who hold less than two jobs (or at least are constantly working overtime at their one). We are all working hard, yet many who love their lives and their jobs are looking down the barrel of a life-changing move out of the valley because of the lack of action to help each other thrive. If we do not start prioritizing renting and selling to our local community, there won’t be many people left to keep the lights on.