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The town of Frisco is working on a plan to increase workforce housing, and a new pilot program to address the issue is set to begin this month. Called Frisco Housing Locals, the initiative aims to incentivize short-term rental owners to convert their properties into long-term rentals, similar to a new program in Breckenridge and Summit County.
According to Housing Manager Eva Henson, a survey was sent out to active short-term rental owners and property managers in mid-August to help identify barriers to long-term renting. The survey had a 72.5% response rate, and more than 86% said the biggest challenge to long-term tenants is occupancy, as the owners split their time using the property throughout the year and renting at other times to offset their mortgage and other expenses.
“Let’s try to have some folks that have never rented or haven’t been long-term renting currently, that don’t have guest bookings, that don’t have Christmas and winter on the horizon, and try to see if we can get a couple of more long-term rentals in place,” Henson said at a Frisco Town Council work session Tuesday, Oct. 12.
Before becoming available to the rest of the community, the program has a target goal of housing about 24 government employees. The town is seeking to hire 15 full-time employees and about 40 seasonal employees.
Four town-owned rental properties that could house about eight employees are also being held to assist with recruitment for the positions.
Frisco Housing Locals will be a partnership with Omni Real Estate to negotiate affordable leases, and some local property owners have already expressed interest on a trial basis. Omni Real Estate has experience managing properties as part of the Family & Intercultural Resource Center’s Housing Works Initiative, which connects Summit County workers in need of housing with landlords willing to convert their vacation rental properties into long-term housing.
The preliminary program will include a master lease for six months with a flat fee per bedroom while covering any third-party costs associated with property management, maintenance and property damage insurance. The town will master lease a property and then sublease the property to screened, full-time or seasonal employees.
Each agreement will be negotiated depending on the specifics of the situation, such as unit type and condition, the owner’s expenses and an employee’s wages.
“Great work. I want to get something going,” council member Melissa Sherburne said. “… Let’s not overanalyze and think too hard about this so that we don’t have anything. I say let’s go for it, let’s refine as needed.”
The program’s budget is $100,000, including management fees, and comes from the town’s Housing Helps program. Staff currently has five interested owners, which could house 12 employees for an estimated cost of $47,000. Omni Real Estate’s fee would be 6.5% of the gross rental revenue generated from each property lease.
Henson said the program will be fine-tuned as it goes along and reevaluated in the spring.
“We’re probably going to have some nuances and details to work through, but I think we’re capable as staff at this point with our expertise and knowledge to get us there,” Henson said.
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