Seasonal workers hope to ’round up’ roommates
The ski season is upon Park City, seasonal workers are being hired and they are making their way into town. Many are looking for somewhere to live while they work, and the Christian Center of Park City and Mountainlands Community Housing Trust are working together to help them find affordable housing.
The Christian Center hosted seasonal workers Wednesday night for the first of a series of "Roommate Roundups" that will be held at the center every Wednesday until the first day of the new year. The event gathers seasonal workers who are looking for places to live as well as private owners and landlords looking for tenants.
There were over a dozen seasonal workers in attendance from all over the country including Kentucky, New York, Colorado, and Missouri. Another group that will all be working at the St. Regis Deer Valley were from Istanbul, Turkey.
Nenna DeCamps, program manager at Mountainlands, and Laura Elton, project assistant, welcomed the attendees and went over some of the legal and cultural differences they might encounter in the U.S., including the drug and alcohol laws and appliances they might have never seen or had to use before. She also urged them to be honest and cooperative with their landlords.
"Finding housing is going to be very hard this year because of the lack of honesty and severe damages from seasonal tenants in the past," DeCamps said. "Hopefully, together, we can work on changing that image this year."
DeCamps explained that Mountainlands itself does not offer seasonal housing they only offer 12-month leases and she said that most apartment complexes will not let anyone sign a lease for less than 12 months either. That means the seasonal workers will most likely have to deal with a private owner.
Renting a house for three or four months or fitting more than two people to a room are highly unlikely options, she said, and told attendees to also ask the human resources departments at their new places of work to help them find a room or a roommate.
Michelle Borof, thrift sales associate and self-proclaimed "mom of Park City," said this year will be the toughest year to find housing for seasonal workers in a while, not only because of the damaged reputation but because of the economic upturn.
"The real estate market is bouncing back, and now all those people who had houses to rent out are taking them out of the marketplace and selling while the selling is good," Borof said.
The fact that most apartment complexes do not allow less than a six-month lease and there are now fewer private owners renting out their homes, finding housing for seasonal workers this winter will be a daunting task.
Borof gave attendees tips on finding housing, telling them that they will need to compromise what they are looking for and being careful when it comes to paying for a place. She warned workers not to pay anyone cash or hand over their credit cards for safety reasons.
DeCamps went over all the forms that workers should make sure to have when leasing an apartment, house or condominium: a lease agreement, a roommate agreement so a roommate does not "leave you hanging," a sublease checklist for those subleasing and an inspection report. She also recommended a set of house rules to make living with someone new easier.
She and Borof spoke about Park City’s free transit system routes and schedules for those who did not come with a vehicle and advised against buying a "junker car" that will not make it through the winter or that might endanger others on the road.
A representative from the People’s Health Clinic was in attendance and spoke about the free services offered for the uninsured if workers are injured in a car accident or encounter any other medical emergency.
Wells Fargo employees were also at the event to talk with attendees about setting up accounts and to offer assistance in getting their security deposits and last paychecks to and from their home countries.
Borof said workers might need to get creative when it comes to housing since the options are few and far between. She said some of them might have to live in a room in someone’s home.
"We are looking for places for these people to live and rest when they are not working, and most of these people have two jobs so they are just exhausted at the end of the day," Borof said. "We are hoping people in town will offer up rooms in their homes if they can."
For more information on how to find housing or how to help a worker find housing, contact the Christian Center of Park City at http://www.ccopc.org or 649-2260 or contact the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust at http://www.housinghelp.org or 647-9719. The "Roommate Roundups" will be held every Wednesday from 5 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. at the Christian Center of Park City located at 1283 Deer Valley Dr.
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