Shawn Hill said it very bluntly during the Teton County Joint Housing Authority meeting on Wednesday, Sept. 1.

“The survey is really everything,” said Hill.

The survey is a joint effort of Teton County (ID), Teton County (WY), and northern Lincoln County (WY), to better study the biggest problem in the region, that of available, affordable housing.

If you have not received the survey yet, follow this link to an online form containing the ‘employee/resident’ survey to complete your response. All responses will remain strictly confidential.

The importance of the survey, and study, is hard to overstate.

The data is an essential component of the upcoming Housing Needs Assessment that is set to influence local government’s actions for the next several years. A new community-wide Housing Supply Strategy plan due out next spring will also be influenced by the data. More information on the Regional HNA plan can be found here.

The last Housing Needs Assessment was done in 2014, with data that has become significantly out of date.

The survey is being conducted in two parts. One will be given out to employees by employers, and one will be given to business leaders.

The hope is the combination will not only present data related to the housing struggles of the workforce but also the effect local businesses (and their leaders) have felt due to staffing shortages exaggerated by the housing crisis.

The survey is being conducted in both English and Spanish, with auxiliary efforts planned to raise awareness for both migrant workers and immigrants in the valley.

If you have not filled out the survey, you are encouraged to do so by clicking on any of the following links. For the english language resident survey, click here. For the Spanish language survey, click here. If you are an employer or buisness owner, and did not recieve the survey, click here.

Employers are encouraged to let employees respond to the survey while on the clock, as this has shown to increase the number of responses.

A March 3 staff report from the TCJHA backs this up with Hill voicing support during that meeting.

“We found that when major employers authorized employees to complete surveys on the clock, there was a surge of data from English speakers,” said Hill. “These are lessons learned from the last go-round.”

Survey results will be available as data in November and will be presented in full during January of 2022.

Depot Square

The Depot Square affordable housing project in Driggs has hit another set of snags as preliminary bids have rolled into the Housing Authority inbox.

A project update document has revealed the costs to be “excessively high,” which is the result of a couple of factors.

“Fewer qualified (subcontractor) bids were received by the deadline than was anticipated, material costs continued to rise over the past few weeks, despite indications they would stabilize, and subcontractors providing bids that would not meet the desired project timeline, requesting a later start than anticipated in the bid request.” said the report.

These snags, according to the report, are being worked out.

The general contractor put an extension on the deadline for bids, allowing subcontractors more time to submit updated bids.

Material prices have also started to level off a bit on the commodity level, but those price changes will need more time to filter down to subcontractors.

The architect and general contractor are also considering using alternate materials to open up options for more readily available products.

Current tasks include finalizing the design review application, getting City of Driggs approval for lot split and boundary adjustments, and the review of all project financing documents, including a preliminary commercial lease, is ongoing.

The next steps for project organizers include exploring an option for speeding up the timeline now that groundbreaking has slipped into October or November. If the City of Driggs issues a foundation permit, the installation of the foundation can begin before the building permit (and associated costs) are collected.

The Northwest Real Estate Capital Corp., the project’s developer, would also need to front the initial foundation construction costs which present some degree of risk.

“The NWRECC would need to front the cost of the initial work prior to the funding of the construction financing that require a building permit for issuance.” says the update.

The update also includes two refreshed project timelines, one assuming work can be done through the winter and another that anticipates a pause in the construction after the foundations are finished, with building resuming in spring of 2022.

Miscellaneous Housing News

In other housing news, the TCJHA will be opening up a new administrator position to help with tasks within the authority.

A job description states:

“The Administrator is responsible for carrying out the policies, procedures and programs, and day-to-day operations of the Authority and serving generally under the direction of the Authority’s board of commissioners.”

The position will focus on housing strategy and will be busy with the housing supply strategic plan and the Accessory Dwelling Unit program.

Applicants are encouraged to look at previous TCJHA meeting minutes to get an idea of the housing authorities’ current endeavors.

The position will start at 20 hours a week and pay will be based upon the applicant’s level of prior experience.

Also of Note

A comment was made about Grand Targhee potentially getting started on another employee housing facility, a special TCJHA meeting with the Karl Johnson Foundation and others involved in the Gemstone subdivision will be held within the next couple weeks, and Commissioners Hill and Troy Butzlaff are going to draft a request For proposals document for the stalled Sherman Park project in Victor.

The next Joint Housing Authority Meeting will be held on Oct. 6 at 10 a.m. at the Driggs Council Chambers.