Steamboat Chamber webinar looks to open doors for those looking for employee housing solutions
Sarah Leonard understands that a webinar is not going to solve the housing crisis, but it will provide an opportunity for the Steamboat Springs Chamber to bring people together to address the issues.
“I don’t know that the chamber is going to solve the problems, but we’re definitely trying to convene the right people in the room, so we can get some solutions going,” said Leonard, who is the business development director for the Steamboat Springs Chamber. “These different business leaders aren’t in the same room a lot of times. They’re from government, or they are nonprofit, or they are for-profit, or they are developers, so they don’t get a chance to really get together a lot.”
She is optimistic that the Employer & Employee Housing Resource Webinar will offer insight into the housing issues Steamboat Springs is facing and provide a forum that will help both employers and employees who are struggling.
“We really want to encourage anybody to attend this webinar,” Leonard said. “You don’t have to be associated with the chamber or even know what we do. What we really want is the community to engage.”
The webinar will take place from 9-10:15 a.m. on Oct. 4. People are asked to register at us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_jHKtoy96TIupSJ-dEJlAww, but the webinar will be free.
The session will address ways for employers to create or find housing for their employees from the perspective of employers who have already done it in Steamboat. It will also address employer resources in town, and will cover financial and planning resources that employers are using, or that are available on the market right now from local entities.
The webinar will also have organizations like the Yampa Valley Housing Authority, LiftUp of Routt County, The Colorado Housing and Finance Authority, Yampa Valley Bank and Cross Country Mortgage speaking to attendees about the planning and financial resources that are available for buying and renting houses in Steamboat at this point in time.
“Finding employees is an interesting topic for our employers,” said Cecilia Mortar, Steamboat Springs Chamber programs manager. “The biggest problem in finding employees is the housing market is what we’ve heard in our surveys. Then the cost of living — so housing is a big thing for them — and finding ways to provide housing, or to help their employees find housing if they can’t provide it, is going to be key.”
Leonard said Steamboat Springs has long faced problems, and it is a common theme in most mountain, resort communities, However, this time she says the conversation is slightly different.
“We’ve always had housing issues and it seems like we have been talking about it forever,” Leonard said. “I don’t think that’s unique to many of the mountain resort towns, but what we are seeing that is different is that it’s employees at all levels who are struggling. It’s not just frontline employees, but it’s middle management, it’s upper management and we’ve even heard stories that physicians with two physicians in the family are really kind of thinking about if they want to move here or not just based on availability and housing prices.”
Leonard’s hope is that this webinar will lead to some short-term solutions in the next 12 months to four years, and that the promise of the Brown Ranch will continue to help Steamboat Springs address housing issues in the future.
“This webinar really is about how can you support your employees right now in this moment, and what as an employee can you do right now in this moment,” Leonard said. “By convening these different stakeholders and business leaders together we’re really trying to come up with some creative solutions and ask what can we do if we collaborate as a community to really kind of address this issue.”
John F. Russell is the business reporter at the Steamboat Pilot & Today. To reach him, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatPilot.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966.
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