Not everyone is entitled to live in a picturesque mountain community. The housing problems in the Vail Valley have been a challenge since the early days; many citizens flocked to these hills searching for an opportunity to establish a culture of mountain living. To say the demand for relocation here, and the commensurate housing crunch has reached an epic problem is an understatement. Considering the younger generation’s desire for experience over traditional values, many of these young adults are seeking opportunity for life fulfillment through adventure and play. Vail is a melting pot for this behavior, and clearly places the affordable housing crux in the cross-hairs. This increased demand poses the question–does the Town of Vail, resident’s, and businesses have a responsibility to solve this problem?
The housing problem doesn’t maintain a reasonable solution. The Vail Valley’s housing dilemma is problematic because of the seasonality, lower than acceptable wages, high construction costs, and scare land that is held onto with white knuckled grips of the economically privileged. Like most worthy pursuits in life, living within the boundaries of an adult’s Disneyland requires a rugged resolve, coping skills, and hard work. What’s the real reason we all don’t deserve a fair shot? Because it is economically unrealistic to offer affordable housing in a free market that is dictated by Vail Resorts’ 159 dollar stock price. Apparently, developers who have the means to offer help can’t make the numbers work. That’s the reality. The Government could raise tax revenue to help, but I don’t even know where to begin with that argument.
The realistic solution? Employers need to step up. This is what The Bunkhouse, Vail’s first and only designer hostel has done. The Bunkhouse, a 38 bed hostel, bar, and shuttle service has devised a solution. The Bunkhouse offers housing for all of it’s employees. We decided to take action creatively by ensuring housing for it’s staff by establishing a work to live environment based on teamwork. We maintain a tighter hold onto our fiscal responsibilities, while the employees don’t have the burden of paying for housing. Employers need to pay higher wages, or offset the burden by providing housing at a reasonable cost. Even though Vail Resorts has successfully done this through River’s Edge apartments, and the Tarnes housing complex, we have a long way to go locally.
Employers ought to consider higher wages for seasonal and long term employees. Yet again, seasonality and the nature of business doesn’t often leave much of the pie to go around; 8 months of business in an expensive market squeeze employers from offering anything more than laughable hourly wages. The problem isn’t looking brighter.
Ultimately, the workforce will continue to struggle as they maintain multiple jobs without a healthy work-life balance. These individuals tough it out hoping for a break; the others give up and leave. However, the challenges of living here on a shoestring outweigh the alternative. Here at the Bunkhouse, are values are deeply rooted in easing the burden of a tough, work-life balance. Need a place to live? We have the solution.