An affordable housing crunch in the city of McCall is starting to have a major impact on businesses in the area. The problem: there’s simply not enough workers.
“Help Wanted” signs hang in the windows of businesses all over McCall looking for somebody to come and help.
“The bank is hiring, the lumber yard is hiring, the eye doctor is hiring,” Bistro 45 owner Kit Worthington said.
Even Bistro 45, a popular wine bar and restaurant, is hiring.
“I would love to have ten more, right now,” Worthington said.
Summer is the busiest time for Bistro 45; about half of their business is done from the end of June through Labor Day.
“I don't think there's a business, or at least a restaurant in town that I know of, that has everybody they want,” Worthington said.
Worker shortage in McCall
The reason behind the shortage of employees: there’s nowhere for them to live.
“We just don't have the employees to cover. We have no housing here,” Toll Pizza Owner Susie Riebe said.
Business owners tell KTVB for those who do manage to make rent, they do it by working several jobs.
“Everybody in McCall has to have three jobs to get through and we need them on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Everybody needs them,” Worthington said.
“You are always juggling their schedule because they have other jobs they have to accommodate,” Riebe said.
McCall Community Development Director Michelle Groenevelt says it’s an issue of affordability. Housing prices are just too high for those who live in this small mountain community.
“The majority of the housing on the market actually isn't affordable for folks that work and live here, regardless of what you're making,” Groenevelt said.
Many of the homeowners who used to rent to the city’s work force have found new ways to make more money, such as turning their homes into vacation rentals through Airbnb and similar websites.
“A lot of our long-term rentals actually have been converted to short-term rentals,” Groenevelt said. “Just within the city limits we have about, I think we have at least, over 200 short-term rentals.”
Groenevelt says the city is working on a housing strategy for locals.
“There is no single bullet that's going to solve the housing problem, that's it's going to be a combination of different tools and strategies, and efforts,” she said.
The hope is the city can present the new housing strategy to the City Council by fall.
The end goal is to make McCall a place where you can live and work.