With a local housing crisis outpacing the efforts of municipal governments to solve it, two private initiatives are underway to help tackle the problem.
Ketchum resident Nick Harman has initiated a campaign he calls “Moving Mountains” to raise $9 million for construction of affordable housing.
“My grandma used to say, ‘Take care of the pence, and the pounds will take care of themselves,’” Harman said in an email to the Idaho Mountain Express. “‘Moving Mountains begins by carrying small stones’ is pretty apt too.”
Harman has launched a GoFundMe campaign called Moving Mountains at gofund.me/7e8435ff.
On his GoFundMe page, Harman noted the city of Ketchum’s effort to raise $9 million to buy 64 acres of the former Warm Springs Ranch property to be maintained as a public park. He said creating housing for local workers should be at least as important.
By early Tuesday afternoon, three people had donated a total of $225 to the GoFundMe request.
Harman also announced a plan to distribute house-shaped piggy banks to local businesses to collect donations to go toward affordable housing.
“It is going to take a village, but if enough voices are heard and a movement gains traction, anything is possible, especially in this amazing community,” Harman wrote on the GoFundMe page.
He said all donations are being channeled through the Ketchum-based Spur Community Foundation, which distributes grants to local nonprofits.
“I’m sure we’re going to have good opportunities to put people’s money to work for community housing,” foundation Executive Director Sally Gillespie said in an interview.
The second housing effort was announced by Windermere Real Estate through an ad in the Mountain Express on Wednesday. Titled “Seeking 100 Wood River Valley Investors Who Care,” the ad urges those who can afford it to buy a housing unit and rent it to local workers at an annual rate no higher than 5% of the purchase price.
“We believe community challenges can also be solved by like-minded individuals and not just relying on the public section,” the ad states.
In an interview, Windermere broker-owner Dan Gorham noted that current interest rates are under 3%, making real estate an attractive investment option.
“Rather than putting money into the stock market, why not put it into the community, and you’ll get a 5% return on your investment,” Gorham said.
He said that last week he was looking at three-bedroom homes for sale in Hailey in the $415,000-$475,000 range. Five percent of $440,000 is $22,000, which divided by 12 results in a monthly rent of about $1,800. That’d be well below current averages: During the first four months of 2021, the mean advertised rent for a three-bedroom in the Wood River Valley rose to $3,210 per month, according to data compiled by the Blaine County Housing Authority.
Gorham said he brought the idea up with a group of real estate agents looking at a property Wednesday, and “they thought it was a good place to start the conversation.”