Round up a roommate each Tuesday
November 10, 2006
Anyone who has been in Park City for a summer and a winter has noticed the sharp increase in population during the ski season.
Most, however, don’t think about how the thousands of seasonal workers, some of whom are in America for the first time, feel about leaving friends and family to come to a place where they don’t know a soul, have a place to live or a way to get around.
Michel Boroff, owner of Bad Ass Coffee House, and the Mountainlands Community Housing Trust have teamed up, once again, to help the situation by hosting Roommate Roundups every Tuesday from 5 to 7 p.m. from October to January.
"There’s a lot of kids who come in who have no idea about the market or what to expect or where to rent or what prices are and this is a ready resource in the area to advise them on all those things," said Sharon Neu, housing resource program manager for MCHT.
"Just come and there’s information there: housing lists, a resource list, rental agreements and checklists," she continued. "But the main benefit of coming is the chance to hook up with others who you might want to go in on a place with or room with."
The Roundup has been held each of the last three years and has continually helped stranded seasonal workers find places to stay. Although it is early in the year, this year has been no exception.
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"We had a guy there last night who had been here two years before and had used the Roommate Roundup to find a house and some roommates," Neu said. "There was another kid who came the first night who swore by it. He came last year and found a great roommate and just came back this year to help other people out."
"They meet other people who are in their same situation they can either room with or just be friends," she said. "They also find out about community resources, whether it be free meals or where to live."
Neu’s responsibilities are to keep the listings for the housing resource center updated, provide maps, check-in and checkout check lists, as well as other community resources.
Despite her own hard work to keep the program running, she said Boroff deserves the praise.
"Proper credit is due to Michel and the Bad Ass Coffee House for hosting it," Neu said. "Michel is great. She is really like a mom to a lot of the people who come in there. She also has internet access, which helps. Michel is pretty well connected and has been doing a lot of service and has a lot of resources around town anyway, so I think it was just a no-brainer that it would be great to have it there."
The Roundups started at the beginning of October, but skipped the Tuesday of Halloween. Alicia Burgess, one of the participants at this week’s event, has been working winters in Park City for six years and has used the Roundups in the past to meet new people.
"I think it’s a very successful program," Burgess said. "The whole idea is that if someone finds a big house you don’t have to pay for it all yourself."
When she moved to Park City from Connecticut in 2000 she didn’t know anyone in town. She found a place to live, as well as roommates, from the MCHT Web site, but had only spoken to her roommates on the phone before moving in with them. Although she said she did not have problems, others aren’t always so lucky.
She said the events will be important this year because of a perceived lack of housing and increase in rental prices.
"There’s not as many to rent this year," she said. "When I drove around town it seemed there are a lot of places that are boarded up or under construction. It used to be there were ads in windows throughout Old Town to rent rooms, but there’s nothing this year. Plus, it seems the average price of a room has gone up about $200. Even stuff out at the Junction is pretty expensive."
Because of what the Roundups offer, Burgess said she will continue to go, especially now that more people are coming into town and in need of MCHT’s services.
"Basically, if you do manage to find a house where you need roommates, you can go in on it together," she said. "Or, if you just got here to town, somebody from MCTH comes in with lists of resources where you can rent, or get furniture or whatever. It’s also a great place to meet people if you don’t know anyone and you’re too shy to just walk up to people on the street and talk to them."