Housing in Jackson: Housing Nexus Study and Regional Needs Assessment set for this summer

JACKSON, Wyo. — During a Special Joint Information Meeting on May 3, the town and county approved the selection of WSW Consulting to complete a Housing Nexus Study and Regional Needs Assessment, beginning this summer.

Town of Jackson Community Development Director, Tyler Sinclair presented the project overview and the findings from the stakeholder group that selected WS Consulting. 

According to the staff report, the study is aimed at providing data about the number of employees generated by new business and residential development, total employment rates by job sector, and will outline the maximum legally defensible limits of any mitigation program. 

Housing mitigation is the required housing or fees in lieu that developers need fulfill, to house new employees brought about by the development of new businesses, restaurants, hotels, etc. 

The Nexus Study was originally set to begin last May, but the town and county continued the project due to the uncertainties surround the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Prior to the vote, Councilmember Jessica Chambers asked, “Is this something that we want to hold off on?” She cited the number of hours it would take the staff and that it’s a “snapshot in time.” Mayor Morton Levinson responded saying, “I would not be interested in postponing it for a year since it has already been postponed.

The Regional Housing Needs Assessment is an added component to the Nexus Study and is meant to provide information about how much and what types of housing are needed today and will be needed in the next serval years. Information will be collected from the “commuter-shed” communities, which include Teton County, Idaho, and Northern Lincoln County, Wyoming.

Recent data released by the Housing Department revealed that over half of the critical infrastructure workforce commute to Jackson from these “commuter-shed” communities.

The study is estimated to cost $300,000 to complete, $250,000 will be split 50-50 between the Town and County and is included in the fiscal year 2022 budgets. Additionally, Teton County approved $50,000 for the project as part of a budget amendment approved for the fiscal year 2021, should the work begin prior to the fiscal year 2022, which begins on July 1. 

Concerns were also raised about the price of the study exceeding $300,000, “It generally takes, as much as we allot to get a project done,” said Commissioner Mark Barron. Sinclair explained that this portion of approval was just for the consulting team and that, “The exact cost will be negotiated over the next weeks and months.”

Councilmembers Jim Rooks, Jessica Sell Chambers, and Jonathan Schechter shared concerns about how the results of the study will remain relevant compared to the pace of development and local economic growth. “Can we be confident that this is something that will be appropriate a year from now, five years from now?” asked councilmember Schechter. 

Sinclair responded saying, “The timing syncs really well with the census data that will be coming out hopefully in the fall and we will have that as a real basis to move forward with this study.” Adding, “It’s a snapshot in time, regardless of when we take it.” 

The county will vote again on the topic once the contract is brought back to them for approval from WSW Consulting. Following the study, the town and county will be involved in how to move forward with the results.

About The Author

Buckrail @ Lindsay

Lindsay Vallen is a Community News Reporter covering a little bit of everything; with an interest in politics, wildlife, and amplifying community voices. Originally from the east coast, Lindsay has called Wilson, Wyoming home since 2017. In her free time, she enjoys snowboarding, hiking, cooking, and completing the Jackson Hole Daily crosswords.

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