Housing officials say it’s getting harder for people to live in the Tetons – but they don’t know by how much. So, the Jackson/Teton County Housing Department is asking renters to fill out a new survey.
Housing Director April Norton said the agency has already received a couple hundred responses, less than 24 hours after sending it out. And she said they hope to get an even bigger response.
“Ultimately, we want to paint a picture, better understand what the rental market looks like for people,” Norton said.
She added that the department has a “strong grasp” of the rental market when it comes to deed-restricted housing — subsidized affordable and workforce homes — but it’s “less clear” on what’s happening in the free market.
This is the first time the agency has gone to residents for this kind of information. Norton said it used to ask apartment complexes for their prices, but they’ve become less willing to share because of what they’ve viewed as negative press.
“And of course if we’re just getting information from the apartment complexes, we’re missing all of the folks who are renting townhomes, houses or little apartments in people’s backyards,” Norton added.
Since the pandemic, rent prices have exploded in the valley, and Norton said there’s no sign of them slowing down. Wages, she said, have also gone up, but it’s unclear if they’re increasing at the same rate as rents.
That’s one question she hopes to answer with the survey results, among others:
“How many people are living together? How many situations do we have where people are living in an overcrowded home or apartment?” Norton wondered.
The information will become public so the Jackson Town Council and Teton County Board of Commissioners can make policy decisions.
Norton said the plan is to ask renters to self-report a couple times a year. The survey is available through the housing department’s website.