Affordable housing lottery is a win for new homeowners and the community
The Park Record editorial, Sept. 16-19, 2017
September 17, 2017
This week a handful of lucky locals learned they would soon become full-fledged homeowners in the town where they work and play. It is a dream they share with many others who make up Park City's burgeoning workforce but cannot afford the town's pricey real estate.
The winners of Tuesday's affordable housing lottery will move into one of eight houses and 11 condominium units developed by Park City Municipal Corp. — each priced well below the area's sizzling market rate.
The event was a triumph, not only for the new homeowners, but also for Park City as a whole. Among the winners were: a teacher, a bartender, a ski tuner, young parents and couples eager to start families of their own. The group is emblematic of the types of residents — essential to a diverse and healthy community — that many fear are disappearing as neighborhoods give way to vacation rentals and second homes.
The projects are what city leaders promise is just the beginning of a sustained effort to create affordable housing over the next 10 years. And there is a similar move afoot at the county level.
Local government and business leaders have long acknowledged the importance of workforce housing, especially in a ski resort town where a difficult commute adds one more challenge to finding and retaining employees. In response, elected officials have spent decades experimenting with different ways to coax and/or require developers to include affordable housing in their projects. Notable early successes, include several apartment and condominium complexes along Kearns Boulevard that have offered a foothold for teachers, firefighters, police officers and ski area workers.
That momentum faltered during the recession when everyone's belts were cinched tight. Business slowed and housing prices slipped. But the respite from the housing crunch did not last long. Park City's economy bounced back and now affordable housing proposals face another foe: a booming real estate market..
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Nevertheless, city and county officials, and their constituents need to maintain the political will to enforce existing affordable housing requirements and enact new ones as the need demands. The businesses that support the city's economy cannot flourish without a viable workforce, ideally made up of people who can afford to be full-time members of the community.
Congratulations to Park City Municipal, Mountainland Community Housing and all of those who helped bring the most recent projects to fruition and, please, keep up the good work. There are lots more hard working folks who deserve to call Park City home.