Winter Park hopes the money can convince short-term rentals to house the workforce

WINTER PARK – Recognizing the need for workforce housing ahead of the next ski season, Winter Park is developing a new program that would pay cash to convert short-term rentals into workforce housing.

On August 17, CEO Keith Riesberg presented city council with a proposal that would offer cash to short-term rental owners who change their rental model to offer six-month or one-year leases to qualified members. of the work force. The city would dedicate $ 325,000 to the program.

City staff said they believed that with the money, the program could generate housing units for the workforce in the very near future and would have a bigger and faster impact than the city. pursuing the acquisition of existing buildings or real estate development.

There have been discussions about the potential push-back from landowners who already rent long-term, but Riesberg noted that the intent of the incentives is to make new units available to Winter Park workers, thereby helping existing businesses. from the city.

“The targeted entities that will benefit from the spending of public money are the businesses that generate the city’s revenue,” Riesberg said.

Many details of the program still need to be worked out, but the goal is to create around 40 housing units for the workforce as quickly as possible. Winter Park Resort has yet to announce the opening day of the next ski season, but the resort typically begins winter activities from mid-November to early December.

“One of the issues we face is getting through the next six months,” Mayor Nick Kutrumbos said of the affordable housing shortage.

Council members asked a few questions about the program, but overall expressed support for the idea and offered suggestions for extending it to owners who are not currently renting at all.

“I love this idea and think it’s great,” said Jenn Hughes, board member.

As the program was introduced last week, companies would rent the units to owners and then sublet them to their employees. It would also use the city’s existing definitions for secondary suites, so rentals would have to meet certain eligibility requirements.

“By structuring it this way, the owner can hold the business owner responsible for any damage to his unit,” Reisberg said.

The program would offer $ 5,000 for six-month leases for studios and one-bedroom units; $ 10,000 for year-round leases for studios and bedrooms; $ 10,000 for six-month leases for two and three bedrooms; $ 20,000 for year-round leases for the two and three bedrooms. Payments would be upfront and would be in addition to any rental income.

In numbers :
Incentive for six months Incentive for one year
Studio or one bedroom $ 5,000 $ 10,000
Two or three bedrooms $ 10,000 $ 20,000

Short-term rental landlords would need to prove that they have operated their rental unit legally and in good standing within the past year to be eligible for the incentive program. Kutrumbos suggested the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District as the boundary of the program, so units in that area would be eligible.

Riesberg added that he was in contact with Fraser to see if city council was interested in teaming up with Winter Park on the program.

About Michael B. Billingsley

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