Teton County Commissioner Candidate Wes Gardner takes on affordable housing. Photo: Mark Wilcox

A message from county commissioner candidate, Wes Gardner:

JACKSON, Wyo. — With 1,100 families and individuals on the waitlist for affordable housing in Jackson Hole, it’s no secret that Teton County is far from achieving its goal of housing 65 percent of its workforce locally.

Meanwhile, investors and market pressure are working against this important goal, pushing prices high enough to entice locals to sell and move out.

It’s time for a different approach with Teton County leadership.

“There is no reason to think that we can simply ‘build’ our way out of this situation using only the tools of the marketplace — supply and demand,” said Wes Gardner, the owner of Teton Toys now running for Teton County Commissioner.

“When elected, I pledge to negotiate with private partners, exchanging valuable density bonuses for assurances of permanent affordable workforce housing.”

Right now, Gardner said, the valley has an opportunity to get the delicate balance in check between development and affordable housing. In northern South Park, a proposal is on the table to bring more than 1,000 new homes into Jackson.

“This will prove one of the most consequential development opportunities in Teton County history,” Gardner said. “We are simply running out of developable land, especially close to Town, and we need to get this right.”

He added that having the opportunity means the right solutions need to come forward soon, but all while taking time to develop a comprehensive neighborhood vision for the entire 5.6 Subarea owned by the Gills and the Lockharts.

“In my opinion, such a plan should focus on mixed density along High School Road, infrastructure (roads, water, sewer, transit) and conserved land (with emphasis on wildlife permeability),” Gardner said.

“With the proper leadership, our community could net many hundreds of dedicated affordable, workforce-restricted housing units in Northern South Park, and the developers could net millions in density bonuses for providing the affordable housing.”

Recent studies have revealed that over 8,000 commuters drive back and forth up the canyon or over the pass EVERY DAY. Fewer teachers, nurses, emergency service providers and other working folks can afford to plant their roots in the valley.

Gardner seeks to change that, knowing that housing our workforce close to their jobs represents a massive opportunity to fulfil the goals set out in the county’s Comprehensive Plan.

“Housing our workforce locally is good for our environment and good for our community,” Gardner said.

But he also acknowledged that affordable housing has only been affordable through subsidies absorbed mostly by local governments and some community philanthropy. To help alleviate those needs, Gardner has also pinpointed possible funding sources that could support more affordable housing projects.

If affordable housing is important to you while preserving this valley’s character, vote for Wes Gardner on Nov. 2 or by mail-in ballot.

Want to hear more about Wes’s commitment to affordable housing? Register for his forum on Tuesday, September 15 at 6 p.m. to talk about the upcoming opportunities for affordable housing.