Big Sky program is helping to create workforce housing, eliminate short-term rentals

BOZEMAN, Mont. — A program in the resort community of Big Sky, Montana that seeks to eliminate short-term rentals and incentivize long-term housing for local workers is showing early signs of success, according to the Bozeman Daily Chronicle.

During its three-month trial, the Rent Local program launched by the Big Sky Community Housing Trust converted 21 homes and housed 58 locals. The program offers landlords cash to convert their vacation rentals or seasonal homes to long-term housing.

The housing trust estimated that homeowners make on average roughly somewhere between $3,800 to $10,400 more annually selling short-term rentals. By bridging that money gap, Big Sky hopes to convince about 1,200 homeowners to make the switch to long-term rentals.

“By providing this boost, it’s enough to make it even out,” executive director Laura Seyfang told the Bozeman Daily Chronicle. “We’ve put in place all these ways to make it easier for an owner to rent to a local worker, but then there was that cash difference. By making up that income difference it takes away all these excuses.”

The nonprofit estimates that it created new inventory 89% faster through the program.

About 78% of Big Sky workers commute from 40 minutes outside of the town. The numbers strike similarities with Park City, where only 14% of the local workforce lives within city limits.

The formula for how much to pay landlords considers two variables: length of lease and numbers of bedrooms. For example, a homeowner could receive $2,160 for a one-bedroom apartment leased for six months. The maximum amount would be $17,820 for a two-year lease on a four-bedroom home.

Despite the success, the program is not meant to be a long-term solution. Seyfang told the Daily Chronicle that they’re simply trying to provide housing for the next couple of years, while several projects in the city finish construction.

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