Letter to the editor: True causes of the workforce housing shortage in Summit | SummitDaily.com

Letter to the editor: True causes of the workforce housing shortage in Summit

Mary Waldman

It’s no secret that we have housing challenges in Summit County. Workforce housing has never been easy to find in most resort areas. But as a percentage of Summit County’s housing inventory, short-term rentals have not increased in 10 years. As such, it is impossible for vacation rentals to be the source of any long-term housing shortage. So, what is contributing to our current workforce housing challenges? Here are just a few of the factors:

  • Housing costs are rising quickly. With the average cost of a home in Summit County sitting at $1.6 million, local workers are increasingly priced out of the market. It’s not a good situation for locals, but it’s also not the fault of short-term rentals. Additionally, people who can afford to buy can also afford not to rent their properties, either long- or short-term.
  • COVID-19 hastened the trend toward working remotely. There are now 70 million remote workers in the U.S. As a manager of 40 long-term properties (all rented to locals), I can tell you this will increase. Most remote workers make corporate salaries higher than locals. They can afford to pay inflated rental prices; if they purchase a home, that home is removed from the rental pool. Again, this puts pressure on locals seeking long-term housing, but it’s not the fault of short-term rentals.
  • More people want to come to Summit County. People can afford to travel, and more Americans are choosing to travel within the United States with international travel restrictions in a state of flux. We’re also seeing people staying longer with seasonal or yearly rentals, in part because of the trend of working remotely discussed above.

Local workforce housing is a complex issue. But creating artificial scapegoats to blame — such as short-term rentals — only delays finding real, long-term solutions.

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