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The High Cost of Unaffordable Housing in Ketchum, Idaho

Genevieve Pearthree - 2017 Spring Graduate 

This research is the first comprehensive assessment of long-term housing affordability and population trends in the small mountain resort community of Ketchum, Idaho. It examined the effects of short-term and vacation rentals on affordable housing, as well as long-term housing affordability, focusing on areas the City of Ketchum believed could be the most illuminating: 1) long-term housing and demographic trends using U.S. Census data; 2) strengths and weaknesses of Ketchum’s housing affordability and short-term rental policies; 3) relevant Idaho state statutes and court cases; 4) case studies of other resort communities; 5) potential policies to address housing unaffordability and regulate short-term rentals; and 6) specific changes most likely to grow workforce housing. Key findings confirmed that vacation and short-term rentals in Ketchum, and the surrounding region, appear to raise overall housing prices while removing affordable properties from the housing market, leading to housing scarcity and increasingly high housing prices over time.

This research generated several policy recommendations to address the supply and affordability of housing, including incentivizing long-term rentals, tracking the short-term rental market over time, and changing zoning and regulatory ordinances to grow the workforce housing supply. The City of Ketchum has shared the research findings with city governments across the state of Idaho, many of which also struggle with housing affordability and regulation of short-term rentals. The research appears to have jump-started conversations about housing affordability and short-term rentals across a broad swath of Ketchum’s community, including policymakers, realtors, and Ketchum’s working residents.

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