Idaho City considering tents for workers amid ‘crushing inequality,’ scarce affordable housing

KTVB – Boise:

“These are the people who work at your school. These are the people that work at your local business. These are the people who serve you.”

In a town where some of the wealthiest people in the country keep lavish homes, glittering and vast against a backdrop of sweeping mountains, officials are mulling over a plan to allow Ketchum’s nurses, teachers, and service workers to sleep in tents in the city park as rent and housing costs continue to soar out of their grasp.

There’s a bathroom in the park, after all, Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw noted. They could walk over to the YMCA to take a shower before work. 

The pitch came last week as one of several suggestions during a contentious special city council meeting on how to tackle the increasingly dire affordable housing situation in Ketchum. The central Idaho town in the heart of Blaine County has long been a vacation destination for the ultra-rich, but boasts median home listing prices of $905,000, according to Realtor.com, while rent on single apartments routinely runs thousands of dollars a month. 

Bradshaw and members of the city council fielded comments from locals for whom frustrations about the increasing gulf of inequality in Blaine County are reaching a boiling point. 

Ketchum resident Reid Stillman’s current rental home is being sold by the landlord, giving him just a few months to get out. He said he makes “good money” at his advertising job but has been unable to find another place to live.

“You need to step in,” Stillman told the mayor. “Because not only am I going to be homeless with a good job Sept. 1, but my friends who are in the service industry, who don’t make a lot of money – they can’t pay $2,900 a month for a two-bedroom in Ketchum. This isn’t San Francisco, Neil.”

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