Opinion: Resort Towns Must Take Action to Keep Housing Affordable

The workers that keep many popular tourist destinations running find it more difficult to find affordable housing near their jobs as more remote workers move to scenic resort areas.

2 minute read

February 29, 2024, 9:00 AM PST

By Diana Ionescu @aworkoffiction


Aerial view of Vail, Colorado in winter with multi-story buildings in foregorund and snowy mountains in background.

Vail, Colorado is one of the state's most popular — and now most expensive — resort towns. | Kevin Ruck / Adobe Stock

In an opinion piece in Governing, Rodney M. Milton Jr. argues that resort towns in states like Colorado “need to get serious” about housing affordability for their residents.

Some are being forced to move away from communities they've known all their lives. Others must live far away from their jobs, commuting through snowy mountain roads or catching a ferry home after a long day of work. The effect on the local economies is dire, with businesses unable to hire or retain staff because there's nowhere affordable for employees to live.

In Steamboat Springs, Colorado, the average home price jumped by 71 percent between 2019 and 2022. “In addition, many vacation communities saw a dramatic increase in units being converted to short-term rentals made available on platforms like Airbnb and Vrbo. Airbnb’s listings outside of big cities increased by almost 50 percent between 2019 and 2022.”

Some citied are taking action. “Vail, for example, developed Vail InDEED, an innovative program that protects and preserves existing homes in the community from conversion to vacation homes through the purchasing of a deed restriction that limits occupancy to local residents.” Private employers are also taking initiative by providing modular workforce housing that can be quickly deployed with seasonal cycles. For Milton, “New housing development can be controversial, but the demand is reaching a breaking point and communities need to accommodate a larger population.”

Wednesday, February 28, 2024 in Governing

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