October could kick off with a treat—not a trick—for housing-insecure folks in at least some parts of the Valley. That’s thanks to a pilot program—called Wood River Valley Lease to Locals—approved earlier this month by the Ketchum City Council and officially launching at the beginning of next month.
Once the Lease to Locals program launches on Oct. 1, an organization called Landing Locals—which operates similar programs in four other mountain resort towns in California and Colorado—will work to connect homeowners who have underutilized properties or short-term rentals with local tenants who need housing. In states throughout the country, Landing Locals also directly partners with local governments to build and administer innovative incentive programs that further bolster and incentivize housing access for locals.
“It represents another arrow in our housing quiver and has the potential to make an immediate impact on our housing crisis,” said Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw.
The program was spearheaded by the City of Ketchum as part of their Housing Action Plan (HAP) and intends to create and preserve housing for locals. Landing Locals brings deep experience and operational capacity in helping local governments with their housing needs through innovative programs, City of Ketchum staffer Lisa Enourato said.
Program Details For Properties
- To qualify, properties must be located either in the city limits of Ketchum, Sun Valley, or Hailey and must not already have been rented long-term in the past 12 months.
- Properties must not rent for more than $3,500 per month.
- Property owners may rent their property to qualified households for seasonal leases (5+ months), or long-term for 12 months or longer.
- Incentive amounts for seasonal leases will be $2,000 per qualified tenant, while incentives for long-term leases will be $4,500 per qualified tenant.
- The maximum grant amount is $18,000.
Program Details For Tenants
- A qualified household must be made up of at least 50% qualified tenants and must not average more than $77,552 or about $39 dollars an hour (120% of the Area Median Income for Blaine County).
- A qualified tenant must earn less than 120% of the AMI in Blaine County and must be employed at least 20 hours per week at an employment site within Blaine County.
- Additional definitions of a qualified tenant include caretakers, children, retirees, individuals who are seeking employment, or those who are disabled and cannot work due to their disability.
The City of Ketchum will be administering the program and providing the incentives once leases are signed, and Landing Locals will qualify all participating tenants and landlords. Half of the grant is provided when the lease is signed, and the remaining half is provided at the end of the lease. Lease agreements will be between the homeowner and the tenant.
Property owners will need to submit an application, sign a lease with qualifying tenants, and undergo lease checks to ensure they are in compliance.
Tenants and homeowners can learn more about the program and fill out online applications by visiting LandingLocals.com/WoodRiverValley, calling Landing Locals at (208) 271-3043, or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Idaho’s ongoing housing crisis has been especially acute in Blaine County, where more than 46% of residences are used as second homes and short-term rentals, according to the 2020 census. The Lease to Locals program kicks off the city of Ketchum’s implementation of its first Housing Action Plan.
Other initiatives in the vein of creating housing include funding housing for those who earn between about $20,000 and $64,000 per year with Bluebird Village and supporting the Ketchum Urban Renewal Agency’s 1st and Washington development project, which will be mixed income for households earning over $52,000 annually and mixed-use. The city is also developing programs for homeownership assistance and housing preservation.
Since Ketchum City Councilors approved the Housing Action Plan in May, the city has also initiated programs to stabilize renters and increase access to housing. The city co-funded a tenant-landlord mediation program and Lift Tower Lodge improvements with the county. City staff are also working with the Blaine County Housing Authority to develop a navigation system so prospective renters can better find and access housing.