Inequality Grows in Western Zoom Towns

As demand for housing grows, small Western towns are experiencing skyrocketing housing costs and rising displacement.

December 3, 2021, 7:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Main Street

f11photo / Shutterstock

The housing crisis is ramping up in the Teton Valley, a picturesque vacation spot near Jackson Hole, Wyoming, reports Nick Bowlin. In Victor, Idaho, one of the communities just across the border from Jackson Hole, Wyoming, the residents of a mobile home park were given 90 days to vacate their lots after the adjacent resort bought the land–eliminating some of the last remaining affordable housing in the rapidly gentrifying area.

With some of the world's wealthiest elites owning homes in Jackson Hole and the 'Zoom Boom' of the last two years pushing more remote workers far from urban centers, the region has some of the country's most extreme income inequality. Now, even the formerly affordable towns across the Idaho border where many service and tourism workers live are experiencing rapid increases in housing costs driven by explosive demand.

As Bowling writes, "Policy changes could be coming: Teton County’s planning and zoning commission is holding hearings regarding a possible overhaul of the county zoning system, which is outdated and offers few tools for controlling development." Across the West, small towns are seeing sharply rising housing costs as urban dwellers with newfound flexibility seek out lower home costs and scenic surroundings.

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