Since Big Sky Community Housing Trust began in 2018, the cost of purchasing property in Big Sky has increased 78%. As standard guidelines recommend spending only 30% of income on housing, market-rate purchasing is almost impossible for local workers. 

Simultaneously, Big Sky’s rental market has grown more precarious. Not only has the massive increase of vacation rentals eliminated homes for locals, it has also increased rental rates. The average cost to rent a bedroom in Big Sky is now more than $1,000 a month, plus utilities. Employees commonly spend 40-50% of their income on housing, forcing them to sacrifice necessities, which in turn impacts services like Big Sky Community Food Bank.
3rd Quarter Market Report
Scrambling to find a home
Dan Paulson is all too familiar with the struggle to find a home as he is about to move for the fifth time in one year.

Like many locals, Paulson started out in employee housing, but as a responsible adult in his thirties, a shared room with a mini fridge grew old quickly. "Call me spoiled," Paulson said, "but I really need a kitchen to be happy and having someone else constantly be in your room can get exhausting." So, he searched for a new place and found an 8x8 walled off room in a Hill condo. "It wasn't much, but it had a kitchen."

Unfortunately, Paulson found himself rooming with "Mr. Party Animal" in a studio apartment, which didn't play well with Paulson's work schedule. Paulson moved out after finding a one bedroom Cedar Creek. The apartment only had a two month lease available at $1,050 a month, "which was way above my budget at the time, but I needed out," Paulson said.

He found his fourth home: a six month lease that he enjoyed throughout the summer, but as the owners use their unit in winter, Paulson had to leave. Unless his luck changes or BSCHT can find a better option, Paulson will land right back where he started: kitchenless in employee housing.

Many people do not have the tenacity to look for a home five times in one year, which is why employee retention is at a new low. BSCHT's strategies to help businesses keep employees and locals find homes include building deed restricted properties sold 30-40% below market, flipping vacation rentals to long-term rentals, and negotiating plans with developers to build apartments.
Thanks to funds from the Resort Tax, BSCHT has been able to purchase the land for MeadowView Condos, provide down payment assistance, and fund BSCHT's general operations.

The Resort Tax board will meet on November 10 and 12 at 5pm to determine which local projects will receive funding. Learn more about joining the virtual meeting as well as the process to submit public comment for your support of Big Sky Community Housing Trust's projects HERE.
You can earn reliable income and make a meaningful difference!
Visit landinglocals.com to list your unit.

Rent local. BSCHT partnered with Landing Locals to assist owners with long-term rentals. With the uncertainty of how COVID will impact tourism this winter, you can still make a great return on your investment while helping a local find a home.
Home share. Loan your vacation home for a few weeks to BSCHT to be used as an incentive for other condo owners renting full-time to locals. Your home share donation allows other owners to both rent their unit long-term and visit the mountains they love.
"The hardest part of the job is realizing that we can’t do everything for everyone. Sometimes we don’t have the answer people are looking for, especially when it comes to housing. I can’t help people with housing."

Sarah Gaither | Operations Manager
Big Sky Community Food Bank
Out of step home prices bring locals to
Sarah Gaither Bivins moved to Big Sky “to be a ski bum for a minute” but is now celebrating her seventh year as Big Sky Community Food Bank’s first employee and Operations Manager.

With several years under her belt, Gaither understands that most people turn to the food bank because of high housing costs. “There are so many stories of people coming through here because of housing. One gal the food bank helped had lived in Big Sky for years. She started out working at a resort, moved on, and found a partner that she wanted to live with,” Gaither said.

After looking for months, the couple found a condo near town center for $3,200 a month. Between rent and utilities, they spent 63% of their income on housing, forcing them to supplement their cupboards at the food bank.

“This has become the new normal for people aged 25-35 living here. They are spending more than half of their income on housing,” Gaither said. “Young professionals leaving Big Sky is a real loss. People don’t want to live with six other adults and a filthy kitchen. As you get older, it’s no longer palatable to do that.”

Gaither knows all too well about professionals forced to leave because it’s her story too. She and her husband lived in Big Sky for five years when their landlord ended their lease. “All of our friends were getting kicked out too, so we moved to Bozeman and have been there the last three years.”

Despite the commute, Gaither loves her job. “The best part of my job is providing food and nutrition, but I love when we get to surprise people. I’ve helped people with their resumes. I’ve helped people do their taxes. We have boots and hats and toiletries. People come here for food, but I’m happiest when we surprise them with more.”

Most of Gaither's customers only visit two or three times a year when the unexpected injury, illness, or car problem occurs. But regardless of why people visit the food bank, Gaither believes that “people make better decisions when they have full bellies. That’s the reason we do this, and that’s the only reason I need.”