Wednesday, October 1, 2014

Blaine County workforce feeling the squeeze

Compared with other resort areas, local affordable housing options are slim

Express Staff Writer

The Wood River Valley has less affordable housing options than any other major western United States resort destination, according to information from the Blaine County Housing Authority.
    Blaine County Housing Authority Director David Patrie has compiled data that show Blaine County’s low numbers can be attributed to Idaho’s legislative climate. He said states including Colorado and Wyoming have inclusionary zoning laws in which a certain percentage of land needs to be dedicated to affordable housing, while Idaho merely incentivizes affordable housing.
    Twelve million renters in the United States pay more than 50 percent of their annual incomes toward housing, the Department of Housing and Urban Development reports. The department administers grants across the country toward programs that subsidize and provide deed-restricted, or price-capped, units to enable residents to purchase and rent homes they may not be able to otherwise.
    There are about five deed-restricted units per 1,000 people in the Sun Valley area, with 96 units to support a population of 21,329. The Park City, Utah, area has the second-lowest number of deed-restricted units throughout resort towns in the western part of the county, with 12 units per 1,000 people. By comparison, the Aspen, Colo., area has 2,815 deed-restricted units, a figure that amounts to 162 units per 1,000 residents.
    For an average price of $167,531, 13 community-housing units were sold between Oct. 1, 2013 and now in Blaine County. During the 2012-2013 fiscal year, six units were sold for an average price of $128,262.
    “This average of one resale per month is about double the historical average and represents nearly $3 million invested in community housing by the Blaine County workforce,” Patrie said.
    Market-rate rental prices in the Wood River Valley for three-bedroom units have increased since the previous fiscal year in all Blaine County municipalities except Ketchum. Average prices for two-bedroom units in Hailey went up by over 4 percent during the past year, though they declined by 13.2 percent in Sun Valley, 12.7 percent in Bellevue and 1.1 percent in Ketchum. One-bedroom-unit prices increased in Hailey, Sun Valley and Ketchum between 2013 and 2014—in Sun Valley, from an average of $871 jumping up to $1,021, nearly 15 percent.  
    In Park City, Utah, one property management company cited a 5 percent to 6 percent increase in rent per year starting in 2012. Patrie, while he measures inflation by comparing the long-term price against the most recent five months, said Park City’s incremental increase is “pretty consistent” with Blaine County’s numbers, although the increase here can be as high as 12 percent in peak seasons.
    The number of advertisements for Sun Valley, Hailey, Bellevue and Ketchum rentals published in the Idaho Mountain Express went up for two- and three-bedroom units, but decreased for one-bedroom units. There were 7.9 ads per month for one-bedroom units in 2014, compared with 8.6 in 2013. The average number of monthly ads for two-bedroom units this year was 15.2, compared to 14.3 in 2013. Three-bedroom units averaged 15.8 ads per month this year and 14.2 in 2013. Most of the one- and two-bedroom options were in Ketchum, while the majority of three-bedroom units were in Hailey.

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