Record editorial: Once again, unfortunately, the housing crunch is on for seasonal workers
With lifts at Park City Mountain Resort turning, and those at Deer Valley Resort set to follow shortly, winter has arrived in Park City.
So, too, have the seasonal workers we rely on to make ski season work.
The majority of them, though, will struggle to find decent housing. Tales of workers packing three or four to a room or settling for other substandard conditions will be common, as they’ve been for years.
That’s not the way things should be, especially given how crucial the workers’ efforts are in making Park City’s resort economy tick. Without them, we wouldn’t have much of a ski town.
The problem is far from new, and much has been said about it over the years. Committed folks, such as those at Mountainlands Community Housing Trust and the Christian Center of Park City, spend countless hours each year trying to alleviate it. Unfortunately, long-term solutions have been hard to come by — and, in fact, the situation has only worsened as hundreds of places that were once part of the long-term rental stock have been transitioned into lucrative nightly rentals.
An important question remains: Whose responsibility is it to solve the problem? Many Parkites argue that employers bringing in the workers shoulder much of the burden. And they’re right.
As the largest employers in the area, fingers are often pointed at the ski resorts. Deer Valley Resort says it has increased the number of beds it offers workers to more than 400, covering 16% of its staff, and provides transportation help for workers who live outside of Summit County. Employees at Park City Mountain Resort, meanwhile, will benefit from a 1,100-pillow workforce housing project planned at Canyons Village. That project, required as part of a development agreement dating to the 1990s, marks significant progress.
Yet the resorts must do even more. And they are not alone. Other large employers that rely on dozens or hundreds of workers like hotels and restaurants also need to step up by providing housing for their workforce or by rolling up their sleeves and wading into efforts to find a community-wide solution.
On a smaller scale, Parkites themselves can do their part, too. For instance, homeowners can coordinate with the Christian Center to rent out a room in their home for an international student working in town over the winter. Many Parkites who’ve done it in previous years say the experience is quite rewarding.
And it’s something that will make a much-needed difference.
After all, all of us benefit in one way or another from the booming tourism economy that the seasonal workers who come here each winter power. It’s time, at long last, to treat them in accordance with their vital contributions.
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Our view: It certainly won’t feel like Sundance in Park City. But we’re looking forward to taking advantage of the perks this one-of-a-kind festival has to offer.