Winter Park dedicates $325,000 to new program offering cash for long-term leases
Winter Park hopes to roll out an emergency program that will pay short-term rentals to convert to workforce housing as soon as next week after town council approved the program details on Tuesday.
During the regular council meeting, Winter Park Town Manager Keith Riesberg presented the Short-Term Fix program, which aims to pair local short-term rentals or second homeowners with Winter Park businesses.
Each business and property owner can negotiate a lease for housing employees for six months or one year, with the town paying the property owner for their participation. Incentives are on top of any revenue collected through leasing.
Council approved $325,000 for the program, which expires at the end of 2021. The goal is for that money to help house 40 workers.
“The Short-Term Fix program is being proposed as a means for the town to create housing for the upcoming ski season and is not intended to be an ongoing program,” Riesberg said. “The date I’m pushing for (to launch) is Sept. 15 … but like everything, there may be challenges or technical issues.”
Based on town staff’s estimates, a studio apartment or one-bedroom unit would receive $5,000 for a six-month lease or $10,000 for a year-long lease. Similarly, for two or three bedroom homes, a six-month lease would be worth $10,000 in incentives and a year-long lease would be $20,000.
Riesberg noted that the exact incentives could be negotiable depending on a home’s amenities.
“We’ve received strong interest in the program from the property owners, and we’re starting to hear from businesses that may be interested,” he said.
The money would be paid to homeowners once they submitted a finalized lease with an eligible business for the town. Winter Park will reserve the right to audit any participants to make sure the lease agreements are being carried out.
Only businesses in the town with fewer than 50 employees are eligible for the program.
The program would target units in the Fraser Valley Metropolitan Recreation District and property owners would have to show evidence that any previous short-term rental operation was in good standing.
Second homes that are not currently being short-term rented may also be eligible with a valid lease.
Additionally, the town is using its existing definitions for accessory dwelling units, so the rentals will have to meet certain requirements for eligibility.
In partnership with the Winter Park Fraser Chamber of Commerce, the town will launch a website with program details, links to connect participants, and master and sample leases.
While the program is temporary, council could reinstate the incentives next year by appropriating funds in the budget. Riesberg added that town staff think it’s possible that some of the units that participate in the program will continue to long-term rent even without the incentive.
“What happens at the end of the (lease) is, unfortunately, a case by case situation, but we’re hopeful that some property owners realize that long-term renting worked well for them,” he said.
In other business:
• Two ordinances regarding annexing and zoning the Rogers property along US Highway 40 at Village Drive, near the Beaver Village Condominiums, were tabled until the Oct. 5 meeting.
• Council amended a memorandum of understanding between the town and Xcel Energy, as well as passing a nine month construction license for Xcel. The amendment rerouted the six-inch reinforcement pipeline Xcel plans to construct to fix natural gas capacity issues in the Fraser Valley. An Xcel representative said the goal was to complete construction before the end of the winter, which would end the current moratorium for new customers.
• Council approved special-event permits for Fall Fest from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday at Hideaway Park and the Plein Air at Altitude event on Friday and Saturday at Hideaway Park.
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