It does not take long to notice the help wanted signs that cover store windows in McCall. The city has long dealt with worker shortages and according to the people who live there one major reason for that is housing.
We asked ‘What’s happening Valley County?’, which is a Facebook group for residents of Valley County, about why businesses are having trouble hiring in the McCall area. There were a number of responses but the most common sentiment was a lack of affordable or workforce housing.
One of the comments said ‘there is nothing available unless you are rich,’ while another said ‘the common person is burnt out working two plus jobs to try and survive here, the cost of housing is beyond what people can afford’.
The worker shortage fueled by the lack of housing leaves some residents wondering what the city is doing to support them. Community and Economic Development Director Michelle Groenevelt says the city has created the McCall Local Housing Program to help.
“The first thing we did was we created an incentive program,” Groenevelt said. “And that’s essentially for deed restrictions for local workers. And so what ended up happening is the reimbursement program, so if a property owner or developer puts this deed restriction on the property they get a $10,000 check.”
A deed restriction is a clause put on a home or land that dictates what the property can be used for and doesn’t go away once the property is sold.
She added that the owner can’t turn the property into a short-term rental such as an Airbnb.
To qualify to live in the deed-restricted housing, the person must work for a McCall employer for at least 30 hours a week or is a senior person with disabilities.
“It does cap the rent and their appreciation to a percentage per year based on the API,” Groenevelt said. “The idea behind that is that we don’t see these huge fluctuations when our market goes up dramatically. A house can still appreciate but it’s like 3% per year as opposed to 15% or 10% or whatever the market is doing. So that was kind of where we started, and that program has been relatively successful”
She noted the city does not specify what income levels can live in these homes.
“We think all people should be able to work and live here regardless of your income,” Groenevelt said. There are some programs that capture (the) lower-income, but then right above that there really aren’t. And so I think the challenge here is that some employers are starting to pay more here like $15 to $20 an hour or more for service jobs. And so sometimes if you have a couple of incomes and depending on how many kids you have, you may not qualify for that lower-income level anymore.”
Groenevelt said the city also has a land banking fund, which is collecting land for future developments, employee housing provisions, among other code amendment changes to promote local and workforce housing.
“So we’re going to listen to drill down even further and do more of a specific action plan,” she said. “And we’re asking a consultant to help us…We have to prioritize all of our efforts if we want to be the most effective with our resources.”
Groenevelt said that when a rental or an affordable house pops up on the market, it is typically snagged quickly.
Currently, McCall has 34 affordable housing project applications that could potentially pass.
Below is a list of deed-restricted projects, of which many have yet to be approved.
Deed restricting housing nearing approval:
Thompson Place: (12 units)
1065 Valley Rim Rd: (one)
117 Broken Pine Lane: (Lot 42 of Broken Ridge Commons)
1400 Mill Rd: (one)
Pending planning and zoning commission approval:
428 Colorado St: (15 Units)
Black Bear Condominiums at 116 Thula St: ((1) Studio, (2) two-bedroom, (1) one-bedroom)