January 5, 2022

Dear Town Councilors and County Commissioners,

We have access to federal funding sources far beyond what has been previously available. There are positive, future-altering ramifications for our community if we step up to take advantage of these opportunities. The Board and members of ShelterJH urge the Town of Jackson and Teton County to take full advantage of this unprecedented access to funding.

What is happening? The $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) provides over a billion dollars to Wyoming, while the $1.2 trillion Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) provides $2.58 billion to Wyoming. If the roughly $2 trillion Build Back Better Act passes in the new year, additional funds will come into our state, some of which could be earmarked specifically for housing.

The funding is right in front of us—we just have to reach for it! Governor Gordon is looking for new, bold ideas that will have a lasting impact on the people and communities of Wyoming. We have an opportunity to not only fully fund smaller projects from this pool, but also leverage private and public funds together to address our housing emergency—but only if we act now.

What would we like to see happen? A local government is far more likely to receive funding than a non-profit or private entity. We’d like to see our public officials:

  • Seek IIJA funding to upgrade the Town and County water and sewer systems and use these funds to allow affordable housing units to connect free of charge.
  • Seek IIJA funding to construct the Northern South Park (NSP) infrastructure consistent with Alternative C. This alternative requires an enormous investment; however, federal funding to build the infrastructure would be a huge step forward in bridging the funding gap to create long-term affordability of housing in NSP.
  • Seek ARPA funding to help launch the Teton Housing Council, a partnership framework to further collaborative housing solutions and educate the community about the value of providing homes for local workers and retirees.
  • Seek ARPA funding for the First/Last/Deposit and Pilot Preservation programs: Governor Gordon has placed $100,000,000 into the Housing Trust Fund to retain and attract working families and young adults to permanently live and raise families in Wyoming.
  • Seek IIJA funding to relocate the Fairgrounds, paving the way for places to live in the heart of Jackson for working residents.

This opportunity is too important to let slip away, but our Town and County officials and staff do not have the time or necessary expertise needed to take full advantage of these resources. We highly recommend that the Town of Jackson and Teton County create a combined taskforce to work with a consulting firm with expertise in accessing federal funds. One such consultant is Sustainable Strategies DE, whose sole mission is to help communities obtain resources for revitalization and key priorities.

On behalf of our membership and all those in desperate need of housing, we implore you to apply for this funding, which would be a win-win for our budget, our community, and our friends and neighbors. We greatly appreciate all your efforts to support housing in our community.

Sincerely,

ShelterJH Board of Directors: Mary Erickson, Chair; Elizabeth Hutchings, Vice-Chair; Mike Welch, Treasurer; Christine Walker, Policy Chair; Ash Hermanowski; Nikki Kaufman; and Skye Schell