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Final Vote on Jackson Affordable Housing Expected Monday

The last time a median-income earner could afford a median-priced home in Jackson was in the mid-1980s. (Jan Kronsell)
The last time a median-income earner could afford a median-priced home in Jackson was in the mid-1980s. (Jan Kronsell)
July 16, 2018

JACKSON, Wyo. – Jackson and Teton County officials are set to meet this afternoon, and their decision on the future of commercial and affordable housing could determine how many people who work in the tourist town at the gateway to Grand Teton National Park get to live in town.

County commissioners and the town council are expected to cast final votes on a proposal to encourage more residential development.

Skye Schell, executive director of the Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance, says more affordable housing would allow workers to be a part of the community, and would help bridge a growing jobs-to-housing gap.

"We're really out of balance,” he states. “We have an amazing economy and a real crisis of having enough housing that's affordable for people who work in Jackson. And this could start to bring us back into balance and really encourage more housing development in Jackson."

The town council has voted to approve the ordinance twice, and a "yes" vote on this third hearing would increase rates for commercial development and decrease rates for residential development, especially multifamily spaces.

Some developers and landowners have criticized the proposal, and worry the move could hurt small businesses and curtail profits that come with hotel and other large-scale commercial projects.

Schell maintains more housing is good for business, and points out that many local companies struggle to attract and retain top notch staff because of a lack of affordable housing.

Currently, workers must earn four times the median income to be able to buy a median-priced home in Jackson.

Schell says tilting the scales to encourage residential development should keep construction projects humming, and start to make a dent in what is essentially an 800-home deficit.

"And we'll hopefully see more apartments get built, and that's what we really need,” he states. “We haven't been building apartments in about the last 20 years. So, anything we can do to make that easier, instead of making it easier to build new commercial space, should make things better."

Schell says the last time a median-income earner could afford a median-priced home was in the mid-1980s.

If steps are not taken, Schell says the number of new residential units needed in Jackson to house at least two-thirds of its workers is projected to jump to nearly 3,000 in a decade.

Eric Galatas, Public News Service - WY