Jackson's Rental Housing Shortage Deepens

Mar 30, 2016

Credit Harvey Barrison via Flickr Creative Commons

About 150 tenants at the Virginian Village apartments in Jackson are struggling to find new places to live after being notified last week that they’re being kicked out of their homes. 

The property owners of Jackson’s Virginian Village apartments say tenants must be out by the end of July—and some must leave as soon as May 1. California-based Bedford Investments plans to remodel and sell the complex’s 56 units.

Community Resource Center executive director Mary Erickson has been fielding calls from Virginian tenants. She says, usually, she would offer to help people with first and last’s month’s rent to get a new place.

“But there’s just no place for them to go,” says Erickson. “So we are encouraging people to go look over in Driggs and Victor, although their stock is really low, or go down to Alpine or further south, but their stock is really low. So the problem isn’t helping people get into a new apartment, if there were apartments available. There just isn’t anything out there.”

This is the latest round of bad news for Jackson renters amid the valley’s deepening rental shortage. Last summer, the Blair Place apartment, the town’s largest apartment complex, hiked rents by more than 40 percent.

Erickson says many of the families displaced by rising rents last year were forced to live in hotels for the winter, and they’ll be kicked out in April to make room for tourist season.

“We’re sort of past crisis and we’re now in an emergency position, and we need to be looking at some shorter term solutions,” says Erickson. “Every summer, we get a huge influx of people, just naturally. So that’s going to pile on top of the people who are leaving the Virginian and leaving hotel rooms. Where are we physically going to put those people?”

Local officials have discussed temporary solutions like a worker campground in the past, but no such measures are currently being considered.

Teton County has touted a goal of 65 percent of its workforce living in the county. Erickson says they are currently shy of 60 percent—and moving the wrong direction.

Last year, Jackson’s town council and the Teton County Board of Commissioners established a joint housing authority and drafted a housing action plan, but that effort is unlikely to produce new affordable housing units anytime soon.