Saturday, February 17, 2007


Affordable housing in motels?

I’ve posted before about some of our area problems. Bend, of course, is not alone. The boom in ourdoor sports and retirement homes has infected many small western cities and towns.

All through our area, as well as in other places, trailer parks, mobile home “villages”, are being destroyed—the land is too valuable for trailers. Thousands of people, most of them on fixed and lower-to-moderate incomes, are being displaced. Workers complain they can’t find affordable housing. Teachers can’t afford housing in the districts in which they work. It’s crazy.

So, the NY Times reports that a couple of resorts bought motels so their workers could have affordable housing. What fun. What degradation. No doubt it's better than camping in a ski-hut, but as far as wanting to live in a community? If the community was zoned to keep out employees, there would probably be lawsuits. By simply pricing them out, or into segregated housing, no problem.

The New York Times

February 17, 2007
Big Sky Journal
Boom in the Mountains Creates a Housing Shortage

BIG SKY, Mont. — The Big Sky region, just north of an entrance to Yellowstone National Park, has boomed in recent years, attracting skiers and other outdoor enthusiasts and fueling a construction and employment boom.

But soaring land prices and building costs have put the price of housing far beyond the reach of many new resort and construction workers.

Faced with a severe housing shortage for its workers, at least two resorts, the Yellowstone Club and Big Sky Resorts, picked an unusual solution. Each bought a motel it intended to continue operating for travelers, as well as for housing workers and contractors.

With its purchase of the Whitewater Inn, formerly a Comfort Inn, Big Sky Resorts picked up 56 rooms.

“We’re a growing resort with 900 staff, and we want to attract the best staff,” said Dax Schieffer, public relations manager for Big Sky Resorts, which is owned by Boyne U.S.A. “The plan is to have the employees stay here during peak season.”

The Yellowstone Club is the new owner of Buck’s T-4 Lodge, a 72-room motel just up the road from the Whitewater Inn.

The owner of the Yellowstone Club, Tim Blixseth, said his company had 500 employees and 1,000 subcontractors. Using Buck’s to help house them will help reduce the “couple of million” dollars a year that the company spends for buses and mileage.

“It was a good strategic buy for us,” Bob Sumpter, vice president for real estate development for the company, said. “We do not plan to change the operation one iota.”

Both companies said workers would receive discounts on rooms, which rent for $100 to $150 a night depending on the season. Who gets those discounts and how much they amount to depend on what a worker’s “job is and how much we need them,” Mr. Schieffer said.

Many workers are choosing to double or triple up to save money, which can make for lively, if cramped, quarters.

Copyright 2007 The New York Times Company

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