Guest editorial: Creative housing for seasonal workers | ParkRecord.com

Guest editorial: Creative housing for seasonal workers

Bill Humbert, Park City

Sometimes I see things differently. To create different results, as a community we need to do things differently. Currently, we are focused on doing the same things (essentially) and expecting change. Unfortunately, life does not work that way.

Many Parkites work at the resorts to receive the benefits that go with the package. I am among you at one of the resorts. Therefore, I am quite familiar with working with seasonal workers, and count some of them as friends.

My profession is recruiting –- since 1981. If succeeding in a profession for 36 years makes a person an expert, I may be considered an expert.

Seasonal worker housing is a recruiting problem for the resorts and the cost for seasonal housing needs to be borne by the resorts. However, sometimes governments need to encourage companies to help themselves.

The resorts spend a lot of money recruiting these workers, year after year after year. Once these workers come to Park City, many decide not to return because finding acceptable housing is a problem. Remember, the starting wage for these workers is approximately $10 an hour. Wouldn't it be nice if the resorts made seasonal worker housing a recruiting priority: The Park City Difference?

There are plenty of seasonal workers available who are U. S. citizens, included among them are young workers in the Salt Lake Valley who simply cannot afford to live here. The seasonal workers enjoy moving from winter resorts to summer resorts and life in places the rest of us want to visit on vacations. n a way, they are their own sub-culture. Yes, they do communicate among each other.

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If a resort desires to be among the best places to visit, it needs to hire the best workers. Simple equation. If it desires to hire the best workers, the resort needs to differentiate itself from all the others. Colleges and universities learned that lesson with their dorms many years ago.

Suggestions:

  • 1. Help new city/county destinations help themselves by requiring that they provide housing onsite for 70 percent of their anticipated seasonal workers. This requirement is reasonable. Cruise ships provide 100 percent housing for their workers, learn from them. Obviously, nicer affordable apartments for $10 per hour workers attract a larger pool of better workers. This solution also lowers traffic on city/county roads.
  • 2. Encourage the resorts to either build new buildings near the base or renovate/build other buildings on bus routes to attract seasonal workers. Possibly utilize joint ventures with other companies to make them more affordable. Incorporate commercial space on the ground floor. Second floor and above only accessible via pass card or other security access.
  • 3. Learn from New York City. Create tiny apartments. To save money on plumbing/appliances, place a small kitchen and eating area between tiny apartments and lockable doors to each apartment. Each tiny apartment should have a balcony on which to sit and read, or simply enjoy the mountain views and air. This solution also provides better ventilation. Possibly provide a small private area on the roof for the residents to relax and enjoy the outside. Employ solar to power the common areas.
  • 4. Encourage creative people in the community to engage in finding other potential solutions.

    This is only a start. Better workers contribute to all of our experience in Park City!