New project registers immigrant families for Teton County affordable housing

Voices JH is offering one-on-one support to families who may face barriers signing up for the local housing department’s database.
The Jackson Street Apartments near downtown will soon house local workers as part of the local affordable and workforce housing program. People recently applied for the weighted lottery for almost 50 units, and — according to Housing Director April Norton — her department just received the results and will contact households soon. (Hanna Merzbach/KHOL)

by | Feb 14, 2024 | Housing, Immigration

Getting in Teton County’s affordable housing system can be difficult — especially for people who don’t speak English. 

That’s why local advocacy group Voices JH is embarking on a new project to offer immigrant families one-on-one support.

“Often, immigrant families are most vulnerable to housing insecurities and also least likely to be tapped into the resources and housing opportunities that are available,” said Jordan Rich, the group’s executive director. 

She said the goal is to register at least 300 immigrant families, most of whom are Latino, and double the number of immigrants in the affordable housing system. 


Applying for housing

Nearly 1,000 homes for local workers are in the pipeline in the next few years in Teton County. The units are sold or rented out at below-market rates, and applicants must meet certain requirements, like working locally full-time or making below a certain income level.

Residents are selected through a weighted drawing, but — in order to apply for that drawing — applicants must first sign up for the housing department’s online database. 

And, according to Rich, that can be a barrier for some people. Applicants must have access to technology and an email address, and know how much they make annually and how much their assets are worth.

“We see when immigrant families are applying, they have a lot of questions about how to create their account, and then as they go through, how they answer certain pieces,” Rich said.

‘Meet people where they’re at’

Voices JH has been working with the local housing department to address barriers for the past year.

According to Rich, the organizations identified the housing intake system as a big barrier. And, in December, they secured funding for the project from the Community Foundation of Jackson Hole, which awarded a million dollars to organizations pursuing housing and behavioral health solutions. 

“The Housing Department consistently strives to improve access to our programs for local workers and their families who are seeking safe, stable, affordable housing,” Jackson/Teton County Housing Director April Norton said in a press release. 

The organizations don’t plan to help families apply for individual units in the lottery system, but they’ll help them make the first step, introducing them to the database.

“We’re really trying to meet people where they’re at, to bring the technology to them, to be ready with all the answers to their questions, to come to their home at a time that works best for them,” Rich said. 

She added that she hopes to “dramatically increase” the number of families who can apply for housing opportunities in the next few years.

Voices will be reaching out to families for the next three months, with the project culminating in a community celebration this summer. 

Individuals who are interested can call 307-264-3646 for more information.

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About Hanna Merzbach

Hanna is KHOL's senior reporter and managing editor. A lot of her work focuses on housing and local politics, but also women's health — and whatever else she finds interesting. You can hear her reporting around the country and region on NPR, Wyoming Public Radio and community radio stations around the west. She hails from Bend, Oregon, where she reported for outlets such as the Atlantic, High Country News and Oregon Public Broadcasting. In her free time, you can find Hanna scaling rock walls or adventuring in the mountains.

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