Vail Daily letter: Rental crisis
For the second time in five years, my now husband and I are being forced out of a rental unit because the owners have decided to pull it off the rental market and sell it. In the past 15 years, 50 percent of the places I have lived in are no longer on the rental market. This is quickly becoming the No. 1 problem for Vail. My husband works year-round full-time for Vail Resorts, the largest employer in the valley, but they do not have employee housing available to us.
Local businesses are having problems finding good year-round employees. People no longer want to try to stay here and make a life here because it is too expensive to live. The town is finally revamping Timber Ridge and the development of Middle Creek a few years ago helped the situation, but those types of units attract the seasonal employee or first-year type person. We need to continue to have rental units available for those who are past the dorm-style living stage, but not quite ready to buy. The town’s deed restricted housing purchasing program had more people than ever show up this year, most likely reflecting this problem. There is no longer anywhere for people to rent affordably nor can most people afford to buy on the open market.
In the study “Eagle County Housing Needs Assessment Update 2012,” the most recent data showed that 46.5 percent of all renters are cost burdened (paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing). Also, 68 percent of renter households (3,840 households) earn less than 100 percent AMI (average medium income). For these reasons, we recommend that the County Housing Department place more emphasis on the need for affordable rental housing. The 2012 Housing Needs Assessment calculated a need for 12,506 housing units, both to catch up with unmet demand and to meet future needs in Eagle County. A lion share of the need for this housing must lie in Vail, where many of the jobs are needed.
Possible solutions to this problem? Can there be some type of town incentive to leave your unit on the rental market? Should the town of Vail purchase units and then lease them at a loss to locals businesses for employee housing? The smaller businesses here in town cannot afford to purchase their own employee housing units, but make the town of Vail money with the sales tax. Or should there be some type of special tax or levy on second-home owners to support a local housing program since this is what we are losing our current housing to and competing with land for future housing?
This growing problem needs to be a priority for the town of Vail and Eagle County.