According to the 2020 U.S. Census, Wyoming’s population grew from 563,626 in 2010 to 576,851. Teton County’s population increased by 9.6% from 21,294 to 23,331. Photo: Nick Sulzer // Buckrail

JACKSON, Wyo. — A program designed to preserve deed-restricted housing for the local workforce will be a little easier to use after town and county electeds approved two amendments to the program this week.

The preservation program launched as a pilot in February. One branch allows current homeowners to sell deed restrictions to the Housing Authority so that when the homeowner leaves, their unit is guaranteed to go to someone in the local workforce. The other branch offers downpayment assistance to new homeowners who agree to put a workforce deed restriction on their home at closing.

At a Joint Information Meeting (JIM) Monday, town councilors and the Board of County Commissioners voted to exempt existing homeowners who sell deed restrictions to the Housing Authority from workforce housing qualification requirements while they occupy the residence. They also voted to increase the maximum amount the Housing Authority can pay to purchase a deed restriction to 20% of the home’s appraised value, up to $200,000.

Since its February launch, two people have taken advantage of the program so far and a third is under contract, Housing Authority Director April Norton said at the meeting. All three used or will use the downpayment assistance program. No one has sold a deed restriction to the Housing Authority on an existing home yet, Norton said.

In a survey distributed to Teton County residents about the program, respondents listed lack of inventory and not enough incentive as barriers to using the program. Based partially on those responses, Housing Authority staff recommended increasing the amount the Authority is able to spend to purchase a deed restriction from $150,000 to $200,000.

Councilor Arne Jorgensen said he saw the program as a short-and-long game.  In the short term, it boxes speculative buyers out of an increasingly competitive market.

“That’s really valuable,” Jorgensen said.

In the long term, homes will remain in the workforce for decades to come, even if they are not available to new buyers right now.

The exemption from workforce program qualifications would only apply to homeowners currently in their own unit. If they owned a unit and rented it, any tenants would have to qualify for workforce housing through the Housing Auhtority.

The motion passed unanimously in both the town and county.

Buckrail @ Shannon

Shannon is a Wyoming-raised writer and reporter. She just completed a master's in journalism from Boston University. Jackson shaped her into an outdoorswoman, but a love for language and the human condition compels her to write. She believes there's no story too small to tell nor adventure too small to take.