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Ketchum To Consider Short-Term Solutions To Housing Crisis

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Rachel Cohen
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Boise State Public Radio
Ketchum held a special meeting Friday to discuss affordable housing.

Ketchum city leaders are considering immediate, short-term solutions to what they call a housing crisis.

“There are a number of different ideas that are in the pipeline,” said Mayor Neil Bradshaw during a special city council meeting focused on affordable housing Friday. “But we also need to deal with the short-term pain people are going through.”

During a peaceful demonstration in May, community members, including several service workers, shared their stories of affordable housing challenges in the community. They said friends and employees are moving away from Ketchum because they don’t have any housing options.

Bradshaw said the city is looking into turning public areas like parks or parking lots into “temporary, tented housing.”

“It would require a certain level of qualification to stay there,” Bradshaw said, “so that people would have to show they’re working for a local business and contributing to our economy in a certain way.”

Bradshaw said the city is also looking into whether it can use public funds to give out rent subsidies.

People who spoke during the meeting had other suggestions like matching seniors who have spare rooms with renters who need them and giving incentives to owners who turn AirBNBs and VRBOs into long-term rentals.

Due to a state law from 2017, Idaho municipalities cannot regulate short-term rentals, "except in circumstances necessary to safeguard public health and welfare." Advocates and officials in Blaine County said the law limits the tools they can use to address an important aspect of the housing problem.

Councilman Michael David praised people who showed up and spoke at the meeting. He said the council usually hears from people who are against proposed housing projects.

“The voice of the previously unheard is now being heard and keep it up,” he said. “Keep it up because that’s what helps add to the decision-making process.”

Some of the proposed ideas could require changes to the city code. Bradshaw hopes the ideas can begin to move forward at the next council meeting on June 7.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include additional information about the 2017 state law.

Find reporter Rachel Cohen on Twitter @racheld_cohen

Copyright 2021 Boise State Public Radio