Home for the Holidays

By on October 26, 2016

Housing department: Near record number of applicants vied for five affordable homes.

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Two affordable homes in the Millward Redevelopment, along with two rentals at the Grove and a home in Wilson Park, garnered more than 200 applicants. (Photo: Jenelle Johnson)

 

Jackson Hole, WY — The Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department announced yesterday it selected five families to fill spaces in two available rental units at The Grove, two ownership units at the Millward Redevelopment, and one ownership home in Wilson Park. The housing department received at least 220 applications over the past few weeks for the units. It wasn’t a record but it was very close. “It was definitely higher than a couple of years ago,” noted Stacy Stoker, the housing department’s manager.

The “enormous volume of applicants” that applied for the units is evidence of the high demand for affordable homes in the valley right now, noted April Norton, director of the housing department.

“Providing housing—whether through home ownership or home rental—stabilizes our community,” Norton said in a press release. “By keeping hard working families close to work and schools we encourage support of local businesses, and protect our open spaces and scenic vistas by keeping commuters off our roads.”

Mayoral candidate Pete Muldoon said the significant turnout for available affordables shows that our housing crisis has reached an emergency level. “We’ve got to take decisive action to make sure we live up to our commitment as detailed in the Comprehensive Plan. It’s unacceptable for our community to continue with commercial development that creates low-wage workers who will have no place to live.”

Mayor Sara Flitner also feels the housing crunch is real for many. “We are at peak demand for housing critical workers and families, which is why the progress we’re making must continue to be front and center. We have as many as 50 rental units waiting to be built on land we own if we can get funding. We have a chance to do that on November 8, and I hope people invest in our working families,” Flitner said.

The housing department’s database continues to bulge with 1,068 individuals or households in the agency’s contact list. At least 1,218 have applied for affordables in the past and when something does become available, the department sends out more than 1,700 emails to notify potential appicants.

When 65 hopefuls turned out for a one-bedroom basement apartment in East Jackson in 2008, it surprised everyone at the housing agency. Now, however, with a historic housing shortage and the average listing price of a home in Jackson at $2M, and $3.2M in Wilson, according to Trulia, it’s easy to see why the latest lottery round had so many flocking to it.

In 2006, 36 affordable units at Millward attracted a record 223 applicants. Less than two years later, 499 applied for seven Wilson homes near the old school house—ranging from 36 to 136 for each house—generating a 71 to 1 chance of being selected.

Lottery winners this time around include at least two critical service providers, a healthcare professional, and a service industry employee. Most of the names or faces will be familiar to many valley residents, Stoker said.

Eleven critical service providers participated in the lottery. They are weighted more heavily in the lottery by a formula that gives emphasis to first responders and residents who have lived and worked full time in the county for at least four years.

According to Stoker, longtime locals are put in the top tier and drawn in a lottery pool of their own first. Critical service providers are automatically entered into this highest priority category no matter how long they’ve lived here. If they’ve lived in the valley for four years or more, they receive an extra entry. The lottery process also gives priority status to applicants based on their household size.

Winning ownership applicants will begin working through mortgage and financing details. If all goes smoothly they could be in their new homes before the end of the year. Occasionally, a “winner” is unable to obtain financing or simply turns down their unit. In those cases, the housing department simply picks the second-place application and works down the list.

“All the households are put in order,” Stoker said. “We’ll tell people where they were drawn if they ask us.”

After applications are entered into a database and prioritized according to the housing department’s preferential bonuses, the actual lottery drawing is outsourced to an independent council.

 

 

 

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