The “housing crunch” in Silverton is unlike anything the town has seen in more than a decade.
Conversion of housing into vacation rentals and sales of rental units has definitely displaced workforce. The town has done a good job of restricting STRs.
Workforce who rent must move constantly, with some staying in their cars or camping during the summer and many “couch surfing.” Some live in temporary conditions for nearly a full year; many cycle in and out of homelessness.
Condition of rentals is also a concern among stakeholders, primarily related to weatherization and heating during winter months. Not only does this impact health/safety but also affordability: one stakeholder noted that there are units available to rent for $600 per month but the cost of heating in winter can run up to $1,200 per month. If workers are lucky, they have connections in town and can figure out who is moving and how to secure housing. Those moving into the town for new jobs typically higher-level jobs are having the hardest time.
“Lack of workforce housing is preventing economic growth 100%. Businesses can’t open, businesses can’t grow.”
One business estimates that one-fifth of their workforce turns over each year due to lack of housing. It is difficult for workers to remain in the town as they become older and want to start families; there is no housing to accommodate them. The town needs a variety of housing solutions: A housing cooperative or tiny home community for single workers and roommates—more transient workforce— accessible to local businesses to house workers; A program to entice owners of vacation rentals to convert those to long-term rentals. For smaller landlords (v. wealthy investors), this should be a monthly subsidy v. a tax break, as not all landlords are wealthy; A new workforce housing community, with units for rent and for sale, and with both market rate and income restricted units. We have no “down valley” housing relief in Silverton. The survey a few years ago that concluded that the town needed 12 or so units for housing was off—we could have easily absorbed 20 units. Better coordination between the public sector, employers, and developers including employer-assisted housing models and expanded infrastructure to support housing.