The City of Sun Valley successfully amends the definition of “Housing Burden” to fit our community.
The City of Sun Valley pays competitive wages. City employees earn more than area median income making them ineligible for homes managed by the housing authority. Yet housing costs were repeatedly the reason employees left the City, and the area, for jobs in other Idaho cities. City officials unanimously approved a housing stipend for any employee who is considered “housing burdened” – paying more than 30% of income for housing and housing expenses.
Seven employees applied for the stipend and only one was eligible based on the nationally accepted definition of housing burden. Something had to be done. The City amended the definition of “housing burden”. Rather than using the national norm of gross income and housing expenses such as utilities and insurance, the City included expenses beyond the control of the employee such as taxes, health insurance, and, most significantly, child care costs. The City found that child care costs are the second highest expenditure for families. By including these expenses in the calculation, six of the seven employees qualified for the program. Additionally, three of the six purchased, rather than rented, homes.