Resort and restaurant managers, retailers, hoteliers and transportation providers have all been working overtime to prepare for the coming winter season. They have built new infrastructure, expanded amenities and done their best to spread the word about Park City's world-class reputation. But there is one commodity that is still in short supply housing for seasonal workers.
On Wednesday, Mountainlands Community Housing Trust and the Christian Center of Park City began their annual effort to match incoming seasonal workers with affordable housing. They say this year will be especially tough. Due to dwindling rental stock and a lack of property owners willing to offer short-term leases, some employees may be left out in the cold.
If the shortage is serious enough, it could compromise one of Park City's most prized attributes the high level of service that visitors have come to expect.
Running a resort town requires a powerful engine of smart, reliable, hard-working seasonal employees. Many local establishments rely on a large contingent of international students who are taking a break from their studies to see the world. They come to Park City full of ambition and high, sometimes unrealistic, hopes of living close to their place of employment and despite their prospective employers' admonitions to secure housing before they arrive, there are always those who show up with no place to stay.
In past years, the seasonal workforce housing crunch eased somewhat. Due to the recession, homes otherwise occupied on a full-time basis were available as seasonal rentals. Also, due to the lagging economy, there were plenty of out-of-work locals who were willing to fill seasonal positions. That is not the case this year. Happily, the economy has picked up again and the results are apparent throughout Park City's commercial districts where construction cranes dot the landscape.
With new hotels and restaurants added to the mix each year, Park City's staffing needs have grown substantially. To be successful, the community must find creative ways to find bed and board for the workers our service-based economy relies on.
Short of requiring businesses to build on-site dormitories, local families might consider inviting a seasonal worker or two into their homes. Empty-nesters and others who have bedrooms to spare should consider renting them out for the winter. The experience could benefit the whole community by strengthening the workforce and fostering intercultural exchange.
Anyone who is able to offer a seasonal rental for the coming winter season is encouraged to list their property, the dates available and rental rate on the signup sheet at the Christian Center of Park City, 1283 Deer Valley Drive. Or fill out the Mountainlands Community Trust rental availability form at www.housinghelp.org/rent/have_rental