Housing mitigation is a key piece in the puzzle of how to make it possible for us to live here. It means that new development has to build (or pay for) workforce housing, instead of making things worse. The town and county have asked for public input on a series of questions as part of their Engage2017 planning work. The ShelterJH policy team dug deep into the questions and wrote the following letter to our elected representatives. We hope it helps explain what mitigation is and how it can help. Make sure to share your ideas with the Town Council and County Commission! Contact us with any questions at info@shelterjh.org, and please become a member and build our power today!


Re: Housing Mitigation Policies

Dear Mayor Muldoon, Town Councilors, and County Commissioners:

Thank you for the opportunity to comment on your housing mitigation policies. ShelterJH is a membership organization that works to ensure that all who work in Jackson can have a home here.

As you know, our housing crisis is getting worse. We’re losing affordable homes every year to rent increases, vacation rentals, and gentrification. Every day we lose more of our essential workers to surrounding communities. More teachers, nurses, cooks, dishwashers, and police (and everyone else) are commuting from places where they can afford the rent or, if they are lucky, buy their own homes. When people commute, we lose critical service providers on-site, and we lose volunteers and active members of our community. Therefore, as we consider changes to housing mitigation polices, we should always ask what the changes will do for our workers and community – especially our community members in the most vulnerable situations.

One of the main reasons we have a sizable stock of affordable/workforce housing is that developers have provided homes as part of their developments. Lacking this tool, we would be in a far worse situation. And, it has become increasingly clear that even our current requirements are too low – our housing need keeps increasing as our overheated tourism industry continues to create new low-paying jobs.

We believe the policy questions, as written, are difficult to understand – even for housing industry veterans – so we hope that you will forgive any misunderstandings as we attempt to answer them. We recommend that you establish a housing expert task force – different from a “stakeholder’s group” – to provide clear guidance on these policies after you receive public input.


1. What segments of the workforce should housing mitigation be for?

1B: housing mitigation should cover both year-round and peak seasonal employees.

Note: existing residential inclusionary zoning is a completely different policy from mitigation, so the status quo is actually that commercial mitigation only covers peak seasonal employees.  Lumping these two separate and distinct policies together (inclusionary zoning and commercial mitigation) is confusing, and we should clearly distinguish their purposes and use. See questions 3/4/5 below.


2. What portion of the workforce generated by development should be housed through mitigation? (the rest will be housed through other tools, or commute)

2A, with a caveat: we should mitigate for 65% of all workers, because that is our housing goal. It is important to mitigate for workers of all income levels that can’t find free market options, which includes people earning up to 200% area median income (AMI). We do not believe it is legal to require mitigation for more than 65% of our workers, as that is the level we need to “keep up” with our goal. The community will need to use other tools to “catch up” to our existing need, such as SPET measures and incentive zoning.


3/4/5. How should the housing mitigation requirement be imposed?

3/4/5C: All housing mitigation should be done through employee generation mitigation requirements. Inclusionary zoning is a different tool that exists to prevent exclusionary zoning (whether by policy or de facto) and should be used with any annexations or complete neighborhood expansions. Mitigation requires a nexus, which is what your Employee Generation Study provides. This is probably the most important aspect of your mitigation policies, and we offer the following recommendations:

Require commercial mitigation for all employees generated. Currently, commercial mitigation only applies to the peak seasonal employees generated.  This leaves out all the year-round employees that the new business generates.  All employees have an impact, not just peak summer and winter season employees. New commercial development should be mitigating for all of them.  A mechanism to provide reductions from this standard for small businesses could be incorporated, such as the one used in Aspen that scales the requirement based on number of employees generated.

Increase mitigation on commercial development with commensurate density bonus. The current mitigation rate only requires a small portion of the employees generated to be housed, which transfers the burden to the community to create this housing.  Requiring a higher mitigation rate in conjunction with an increase in FAR allows a developer to create the required housing on-site which can remain an asset for the success of the new business long-term and provides housing options for more of the employees generated.

Reduce mitigation categories & use average rates. Currently, there are many categories for commercial mitigation – office, retail, restaurant/bar, lodging, etc. We recommend combining and averaging some uses that currently trigger change of use fees. Categories may include: residential, lodging / short-term-rental, nonresidential, institutional/public/semi-public.

Eliminate change of use mitigation with existing structures. When a use changes within an existing structure, it may trigger a mitigation fee.  This impacts existing businesses and discourages new restaurants, which have a much higher mitigation rate compared to office or retail use.  It is also complex and resource-intensive to manage.  Instead, average the mitigation rates and assess at time of development to eliminate the change of use fees.

Require mitigation on market-rate residential development. Market-rate ownership product is out of reach for all but a few local employees and more often provides an option for part-time or seasonal residents. These transient occupants generate more service employees than a home occupied by a full-time resident. Mitigation rates should reflect the increased impacts from market rate residential development. A mechanism to provide reductions from this standard for local occupancy could be incorporated, such as a recorded document used in Summit County, Colorado.

Require 1-for-1 replacement of any existing workforce housing units. Our housing mitigation rules should require 1-for-1 replacement of any workforce units destroyed during development. This is different from, and additional to, mitigating the workforce generation of the new development. Some new development both knocks down existing affordable/workforce housing and builds new high-end homes or commercial use that require mitigation. For example, the Marriott hotel knocked down a number of de-facto-affordable mobile homes. For easier explanation, imagine a simpler project: a developer buys a single lot with one mobile home. They knock down that home and build 4 new homes. One of the new units has to be affordable based on mitigation – but that just keeps up with the 3 new market-rate homes. But before this development, that parcel was net positive +1 workforce home. After the development, our community is worse off than before. As a result, we should require that developers replace any workforce units. The way to define which units count as workforce units is to use the same list as in the “exempt workforce housing uses” shown below in question #8.  

  What’s on the site Workforce units Impact on workforce housing
Existing conditions 1 mobile home 1 unit
After existing unit is knocked down Nothing 0 units -1 unit
After new development is built 3 market-rate condos and one affordable unit required by mitigation 1 unit to keep up with the 3 market-rate units Still -1 unit
If we require 1-for-1 replacement 3 market-rate condos and one affordable unit (mitigation) and one workforce unit (replacement) 1 unit to keep up with the 3 market-rate units


1 unit to replace the mobile home

Back to net zero


6. What type of housing should be provided through housing mitigation requirements?

6C: All mitigation housing should have minimum and maximum standards. All units should have access to kitchens and bathrooms (even if shared such as in a dormitory building). Allow the developer flexibility in the provision of unit types and tenancy (ownership or rental) to enable the required units to better meet the needs of the business long-term.

The methodology to calculate the requirement and the resulting mitigation should be square footage based instead of bedroom/occupant based. To simplify the code for development professionals and the public, the town and county regulations should be the same.


7. What methods for providing required housing mitigation will be allowed and preferred?

7C: Prioritize new on-site units for developments in complete neighborhoods. Our biggest challenge in creating new housing options for local workers is the availability of land in complete neighborhoods. Allowing units to be built off-site results in fewer locations to meet our workforce housing goals. Fee-in lieu and the purchase of “credits” should be prioritized for developments outside of complete neighborhoods to enable construction of units in appropriate locations and consistent with comprehensive plan goals.

Establish a “credit” system which allows developers that are not accessing public funds to build additional workforce housing in their project and allows them to sell “credits” for these additional units to other developers to meet their housing requirements. This encourage developers to build more workforce housing in their projects similar to the program used with Powderhorn Employee Housing. Set stringent standards for the use of existing housing stock to ensure a net gain in the supply and quality of workforce housing inventory.


8. What types of development should be exempt from housing mitigation requirements and why?

8B: Exemptions to encourage the private sector to produce workforce housing have been successful and should remain.  This includes housing units restricted for the workforce in some way, even though they are not restricted for affordability, such as accessory residential units, any housing bonus incentive, mobile home parks, rental apartments of a certain size, and alternate restrictions used by non-profit housing organizations and businesses.  These exemptions act as incentives to encourage the type of development that creates housing options for local workers.  Unless an appropriate deed restriction is added, these alternative approaches should not be allowed to meet the housing requirements of the new development or another development.

Please eliminate exemptions that do not provide workforce housing. Current exemptions that should be eliminated include live-work, one lot split of a residential lot into two lots, and the first 2,500 square feet of single-family dwellings. A mechanism to provide relief from this standard for local occupancy could be incorporated, such as that used in Summit County, Colorado. Additionally, Institutional Uses should not be exempt from the housing standards as currently is the case.

Please eliminate the “credit” in redevelopment for existing residential unless it can be shown that the new residential use will be similar to the old residential use. Compliance with the “rough proportionality” standard is important. However, the exemption for existing uses prior to the adoption of the requirements should be amended to reflect the true impact of replacing existing residential (that houses local workers) with new residential (that targets part-time residents). This is to stop actions such as what happened with the Marriott knocking down affordable trailers and somehow counting those affordable trailers as “credits” against their housing requirements. The new residential built no longer houses local workers and instead 1-bedroom penthouse condominiums are listed between $1,200,000 and $1,602,000. These units are obviously not targeting local workers, and the employees generated from non-local tenancy condominiums is higher than local resident single-family. Therefore, impacts can be assessed and mitigated while preserving the “rough proportionality” standard.


9. What type of relief from the housing mitigation requirements should be allowed?

9A: “Relief” should only be allowed inasmuch as it is legally required. Consultants can always provide an “independent calculation” showing that their project is unique and should provide less than normal mitigation. We should discourage this as much as possible and require some form of long-term assurance that the actual impact is commensurate with the “independent calculation.” Also, the term “relief” makes it sound like housing mitigation is a bad thing, when in fact it is a positive policy that we need to keep Jackson the place we know and love.


10. How should the updated mitigation requirements be applied to approved, but not yet built, development?

10B: If a project has not been built after many years, new requirements should apply. Additionally, out-of-date masterplans should be updated with new housing requirements when possible (at any time of re-negotiation).


Thank you for your consideration on these extremely complex issues. Again, we respectfully recommend that you form a housing expert task force, and we offer our participation. Please be in touch with any questions.



Christine Walker

Policy Team Chair




Despite a last-minute push to stop it, Jackson’s first tenant protection – a 30-day notice requirement – passed its “first reading” tonight, and is on track to become law.

Every new town law must be approved three times, with public hearings every time – a great way to make sure that a community really wants that law, and gets input. The mayor and town council have also held a number of meetings and workshops about tenant protections, and heard extensive public input about how dire the rental market is (as well as hearing from a few lawyers and property managers who are paid by landlords and said there isn’t any problem for renters in Jackson).

Tonight was the first reading, and at first it seemed things were going smoothly for the 30-day notice requirement. The only public comment was support from Barbara Prescott of Teton County Access to Justice (previously on KHOL). Mayor Muldoon spoke for the tenant protection, and Councilor Jim Stanford did too.

Things took a turn when Councilor Bob Lenz said he would vote against it – because he thought it should be 50 days, not 30 days, and because he thought the maximum fine (set by state law) was too high. But he was open to discussion.

The real pushback came from Councilor Don Frank, who declared that “This ordinance is inequitable. There’s nothing in this ordinance that protects landlords. It’s a very one-sided ordinance.” Don spoke for many minutes about how this small step toward protecting tenants is unfair to landlords. We are shocked that he seems not to realize that the current housing market is extremely biased in favor of landlords – so this law is one small step towards making things more fair. But he went on in his opposition to the law.

Council also wanted to learn more about how the law would be enforced. Town Attorney Audrey Cohen-Davis and Assistant Attorney Lea Colasuonno provided excellent information in response, answering all of council’s questions with clear and detailed replies. This information seemed to assure council that the enforcement of the law would be handled well.

Before council voted, Don Frank made another attempt to stop the law, appealing to his fellow councilmembers to focus on educating tenants on what they should do differently, instead of passing a law to give them protection from unjust treatment.

Hailey Morton-Levinson had not expressed many opinions yet – making it unclear if the bill would pass or fail.

At the end of the night, the mayor called for the vote, and it was 3-2 in favor!

Voting for 30-day notice: Mayor Pete Muldoon, Jim Stanford, and Hailey Morton-Levinson.

Voting against: Don Frank and Bob Lenz.

ShelterJH applauds the council for taking another step in the direction of protecting our hard-working local renters.

What you can do:

Dear Mayor Muldoon and Councilors,

ShelterJH urges the Town Council to vote to approve the Housing Supply Plan 2017-2021 and support its implementation.  Shelter JH thanks the Housing Department and the Housing Supply Board for compiling a plan that contains relevant data, thoughtful ways to address the challenge, and a realistic path forward.

In particular, the Housing Supply Plan does a great job of showing the annual workforce housing need compared to the number of workforce housing units in the pipeline.  What stands out is that there are few units proposed that serve households earning less than 80% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

For this reason, we encourage the Council to prioritize Capital Projects that serve households earning less than 80% of the AMI when developing workforce housing on publicly owned land or utilizing public funds to provide workforce housing options. These families more commonly face severe housing costs, overcrowding, homes with physical deficiencies, and housing instability.  This directly translates to higher social service costs, decreased health outcomes and lower educational achievement for a large segment of our fellow workers.

According to your 2014 Housing Needs Assessment, Households earning less than 50% AMI are particularly hard hit by the housing crisis in our valley – 77% are cost burdened, or paying more than 30% of their gross income toward housing.  When housing payments exceed 30%, households have insufficient residual income to afford other necessities like food, transportation and health care.

The Housing Supply Plan also demonstrates the great work that has been done to get workforce housing units in the pipeline and the amount of work still needed to meet our housing goals.  We encourage the Council to consider additional capacity within the Housing Department to effectively manage all the new units that are coming on line and to implement the proposed Capital Projects, Capital Programs, Housing LDR updates, and the Education & Outreach ongoing and proposed efforts.

Thank you for your continued efforts to provide safe, decent and affordable housing for your hard-working constituents and for considering ShelterJH’s request to approve the Housing Supply Plan 2017-2021 and support its implementation.



Christine Walker

Policy Chair

Shelter JH

After months of debate over whether we should enact tenant protections, Town Council voted today to get started with a “30-day notice requirement” ordinance. This is a good first step for our tenants, and we’re excited that the Council is taking action.

What are tenant protections? Wyoming laws disproportionately favor landlords and provide virtually no protections to tenants, and our local ordinances contain nothing at all on the subject of landlord-tenant law. When we don’t take care of our employees, it’s not only bad for them as human beings, it harms our community and economy by making it difficult for business owners to retain quality employees. Read more details here.

Who doesn’t want tenant protections? Town Council heard a report from the stakeholder taskforce they appointed a couple months ago. Three people on the taskforce were landlords or property managers who absolutely refused to even consider new ordinances for tenant protections. Kevin Kavanagh of the Clear Creek Group (known for $100,000 a week short-term rentals and for breaking short-term rental rules) spoke at today’s meeting, saying that any ordinances would be “governmental overreach,” and claiming that even a 30-day notice requirement would result in landlords taking rentals off the market. Kavanagh also said that there’s no “data” to show that we have a problem, so any tenant protections are “a solution in search of a problem.” This idea is astonishing to those of us who rent and experience problems every day. Another landlord, Todd Oliver of the Blair Place Apartments, who tried to raise rents 40% in one fell swoop two years ago, said that people should just get leases – something that is impossible for many tenants who have no negotiating power.

Who does want tenant protections? A number of tenants, including Jorge Moreno and Jeremy Weiss, spoke about their experiences being evicted with little notice, ranging from 3 to 20 days – after years of renting the same house. Jessica Chambers also asked the council to enact tenant protections, for the most vulnerable members of our community. And Mary Erickson and Rosie Read, both on the task force, spoke in favor of tenant protections – not just 30-day notice, but also non-discrimination (based on immigration status and gender identity / sexual orientation) and repairs to major appliances. Read, who is an attorney, noted that even she hasn’t been able to obtain a lease for her current residence. “Just get a lease” is not a solution.

What did the council decide? The council voted to direct staff to prepare a tenant / landlord education resource (which is great, but not tenant protections), and to bring back more information about a 30-day notice ordinance. Mayor Muldoon tried to expand the motion to include research into non-discrimination, requiring leases, and restating and clarifying the state tenant/landlord laws, but Councilor Hailey Morton-Levinson shot that down, twice. Morton-Levinson said she wouldn’t consider those other ideas (which we’ve been asking for) now, but that the mayor could bring back more-detailed proposals for the council to discuss.

What’s ShelterJH’s take? We’re glad the council is taking a first step towards tenant protections. We hope the council will quickly write and adopt a tenant protection ordinance that includes a 30-day notice requirement – and also include non-discrimination, as well as a requirement for leases and the repair of major appliances by landlords.

What’s your take? Email the council and mayor at council@townofjackson.com to let them know!

And please become a ShelterJH member today, to help build power for tenants through work like this!

April 17th Town Council Workshop

ShelterJH member Jack Maguire sat through and reported back on this week’s town council workshop about workforce camping. Here’s his report.


Town council made progress on a pilot project to allow workforce camping in town this summer. They landed on two basic ideas: (1) allow overnight-only RV/camper parking in a town parking lot, with permits only for local workers, and (2) allow RV camping in some town zones so that private landowners can open RV camping for local workers. Town staff is going to bring back more info at an upcoming town council meeting. You can send your ideas and reactions to council@townofjackson.com – feedback helps them do their job!

What happened

Summer workforce camping was the largest blocked off section on the workshop agenda and the discussion lasted over the 30 minute time period. The questions town council members had for their staff brought some light to the issue and showed that serious effort has been put toward trying to find a way to implement summer camping for our workforce. Here is a link to the Town Council’s Workshop Agenda for summer camping and here is a link to the live video of the whole discussion.

One option that was brought forward is for the Council to issue an emergency ordinance to allow RV parking in certain areas of Jackson. What happens in an emergency ordinance is the town declares an emergency, current ordinances are suspended, and new ordinances are issued for a set period of time. The town had been looking at issuing this under a first come first serve basis – meaning that anyone could take advantage of this RV parking, not just the workforce.

There was reluctance among the Town Council to use an emergency ordinance. Jim Stanford was the most vocal Town Council member in support of going through the normal process of holding three public hearings / ordinance readings on the issue (which takes minimum 10 days). Jim was confident that the Council and their staff would be able to get the work done before the summer season kicks off in earnest. Pete Muldoon was largely concerned about giving guarantees to the people who would be running camp sites or overnight parking areas. Primarily, that the Town government would give the private owner permission to build the business only to force them to shut down in the near future due to new or long standing regulations or other legal restrictions

A new idea

A brand-new proposal that was brought forward was for a 2.5 acre plot of land at 1080 South Highway 89 to be made into an overnight parking or camping location by a private owner. The hurdle which needs to be overcome for this plan to go forward is that currently no Land Development Regulations (LDRs) allow for camping on private property. Audrey Cohen-Davis, the town attorney, stated that the Town Council or the planning director could change the LDRs to allow camping either temporarily or permanently. An emergency ordinance could also be used to allow camping on private property.

The individual who has offered to start the business is Cody Wojtasic* and he was called to the microphone to elaborate on the business venture. Cody is the owner of an RV repair shop in Jackson and is looking to develop two plots of land, the previously mentioned plot in Jackson Hole at 1080 South Highway 89 and one in Hoback behind Cowboy Taxi, into short term housing/camp sites. Cody said that he wants them to be like the camp grounds by the Virginian, but not as large or bulky. If you decided to rent a spot at his camp you would have water, power, and your own area where you could park your RV, tiny home, or set up camp. Cody has currently set his price for rent at $800 a month.

Jim Stanford asked Cody if that price was too high for the workforce who are in need of affordable housing. Cody replied no, he thinks the price is fair especially in comparison to the $1200-2000 rent for a studio apartment in town. Cody stated that the barrier he was running into is that current regulations do not allow any camping on private property; the same barrier that Audrey had described earlier in the Workshop. If anything, that was the theme of the discussion about summer workforce camping. There is the possibility to do it but the main obstacle preventing the idea from moving forward is that current zoning regulations simply do not allow camping. After Cody’s presentation, the Town Council moved forward onto public comment.

Public comment

Jeff Walker was the first person to stand up and address the Council. His concern was focused on the “scope” of what the Town Council was trying to do. Jeff stated that the discussion and direction of this venture is moving away from trying to provide a place for our summer workforce and moving toward a camping for anyone strategy.  Jeff finished by commenting that he doesn’t want to see these new camping measures go to tourists or people just “coming to Jackson for the summer” and that a permit system for camping/overnight parking appeared to be the best way to assure that these measures reach Jackson’s summer workforce.

[Editor’s note: Jack Maguire, this author, was next. Jack spoke powerfully about the need for the Town Council to do something for our workforce. Jack grew up here and has worked in the service industry for years, and knows many people who camp in the woods or hide around town, and would much prefer to be able to camp somewhere legal and safe.]

The next person to come forward and share their opinion was Joe Kudar who owns the Kudar Motel and RV spaces. Joe stood up and advocated against the Town Council allowing other people to RV park/camp near his RV parking/camping. Joe stated that you would be taking away parking and that there might be crime that follows. Joe said he spent some of the previous years of his life in Green River where they allowed camping in the town limits for employees. Joe said that Green River experienced depreciation and a higher rate of crime in these areas as a result. Joe finished by saying that he hoped the Town Council would find somewhere else for workers to stay that isn’t near his property.

The final person to comment was Tim Rieser. He was assertive and asked the Town Council if we actually knew the number of employees, “the scale of the problem”, in Jackson who were forced to or were camping during the summers? Mayor Muldoon stated that this time was reserved for comment. At that point, Tim re-stated the question, said knowing the scale of the problem would help us find a solution, told the Town Council that was all he was asking, and took his seat.

Town council discussion

Town Councilors then wrapped up this section of the workshop with their own thoughts. The tone from all the Town Council members was far more accepting and positive than it was at the last meeting. All were in support of putting further investment of time and resources into figuring out the details of what summer camping would entail. Pete Muldoon was interested in having further public discussion on overnight parking by permit behind the Rec Center while Hailey Morton-Levinson supported exploring Cody Wojtasic’s proposals. Hailey further explained that she is interested in simplifying camping, that some sort of permit system is the way to go (so that it’s for workers only), and is still concerned about the Town Council being able to do this the right way the first time. Hailey said she was encouraged by the public input.

Don Frank was ecstatic about the proposal which Cody Wotasic brought forward because Cody is a private citizen who sees public need and is willing to take private risk to help. In Don’s opinion, as long as the plan is respectful of the neighbors’ needs, the Town Council should allow it to move forward. In a memorable line, Don said “carpe campground – seize the opportunity.”

The main concern supported by almost all Town Council members was to ensure that this effort would be to benefit the summer workforce and not to allow tourists to use this program. In general, they wanted the program to allow overnight parking only (to keep parking available for tourists during the day) and to require permits (so only our workers are parking there overnight) on some town parking lot TBD. The Town Council then moved for the staff to look further into overnight parking, camping, and the proposal for 1080 South Highway 89. All were in favor.

March 3, 2017

Mayor Muldoon and Jackson Town Council
P.O. Box 1687
Jackson, WY 83001

RE: April Joint Information Meeting Agenda Item
Summer Camping in Public Parking Lots

Dear Mayor Muldoon and Councilors,

Shelter JH respectfully requests the following item to be placed on the April Joint Information Meeting Agenda: Summer Camping in Public Parking Lots.

The summer season is rapidly approaching and is forecast to be the busiest tourist season on record. Additionally, few new housing units for working folks have been added to an already low inventory of secure housing in our community or our bedroom communities down valley and over the hill.

This seasonal increase in employees (demand) and low housing inventory (supply) places our most vulnerable populations at risk of finding any secure housing. As witnessed last summer, it is likely desperate measures will be taken to find basic shelter, such as people sleeping in cars, families camping, seasonal employees cramming into old motel rooms, people sleeping in shifts in beds, and single moms living in mold infested units.

Shelter JH urges the Town Council to consider ordinances that allow summer camping in public parking lots and provide associated facilities to protect the public health, safety and welfare of its constituents. This short-term answer to our housing crisis is necessary until long-term solutions can be implemented.

Thank you for considering Shelter JH’s request to further conversations regarding summer camping in public parking lots to create short-term secure housing options for all members of our local workforce.


Christine Walker
Policy Chair
Shelter JH

March 9, 2017

Mayor Muldoon and Jackson Town Council

P.O. Box 1687

Jackson, WY 83001



RE:           Tenant Protections

Dear Mayor Muldoon and Councilors,

Thank you for holding an informative and in-depth workshop regarding tenant protections in January. We were very encouraged to hear your support for our neighbors living in the toughest conditions, and look forward to seeing what your legal team brings back for your next meeting. We support the idea of starting with areas that the community can agree upon, such as requiring adequate notice before a rent increase and addressing health and safety issues.

We would like to offer a few points of clarification regarding the various topics you discussed:

1. Non-discrimination: our federal Fair Housing Act includes seven protected classes: race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability and familial status. In the staff report, your legal team identified only one additional class you might want to protect: transgender people. Two important additional classes for protection are left out: sexual orientation and immigration status. These classes are not protected under federal law; they could be under local law.

Please include sexual orientation and immigration status as protected classes in our municipality, and make it illegal to discriminate when it comes to housing, based on these categories.

2. Non-retaliation: your legal team also told you that the federal Fair Housing laws already covers non-retaliation. But that’s only the case when landlords retaliate against tenants for standing up for their rights under the federal Fair Housing Act. So it doesn’t cover retaliation against tenants for fighting discrimination that isn’t covered by federal law (see above), or for anything else like safety issues, repairs, insufficient notice, etc.

Please add non-retaliation for situations not covered by the Fair Housing Act.

3. Habitability: your discussion focused on health and safety issues with homes, such as mold or working plumbing. As your legal team pointed out, most of these issues are already covered under state law. Our hope in raising this issue in a previous letter was that you would consider also covering repairs to major essential appliances, such as refrigerators and stoves, because that is not currently covered under state law.

Please include major (critical) appliances in your habitability/repairs ordinance 

4. Support for landlords: also on the topic of repairs, we respectfully request that you consider setting up a low- or no-interest loan fund for landlords who want to make the required repairs to their homes. This will prevent the negative effect where some landlords may decide it’s too expensive to make the repairs, and instead they’ll stop renting places long-term to our workers. A loan fund will provide an incentive to make needed repairs. If you want to be sure that public funds have clear public benefit, you could include a requirement that landlords accessing these funds promise to rent at an affordable rate until the loan is paid back.

Please use existing funds designated for affordable housing to support “preservation” of existing affordable housing stock.

Also, we would like to offer our help if you do put together a stakeholder committee; a representative of Shelter JH would be interested and willing to participate.

Again, thanks for your energy and effort for our neighbors in the hardest housing situations.


Christine Walker

Policy Chair

Shelter JH

November 19, 2016

Mayor Flitner and Jackson Town Council

Tenant protections in the Town of Jackson

Dear Mayor Flitner and Councilors,

Shelter JH is encouraged that you are discussing tenant protections in Jackson. As we have worked with our membership of tenants and low-income workers, we have found a tremendous need for basic tenant protections. Wyoming laws disproportionately favor landlords and provide virtually no protections to tenants, and our local ordinances contain nothing at all on the subject of landlord-tenant law. When we don’t take care of our employees, it’s not only bad for them as human beings, it harms our community and economy by making it difficult for business owners to retain quality employees.

We recognize you are working hard to provide housing and to encourage the private sector to do the same. We also support you taking action to protect those of us who have found housing and are vulnerable to mistreatment because we lack leverage and legal protections.

We have investigated options for what our Town can do, and researched what other communities have done. We believe it would be prudent to start with easier actions, such as notice requirements or non-retaliation rules, assess how they go, and then tackle more challenging and impactful areas, such as rent stabilization measures. Understanding that resolutions do not allow for enforcement, we ask that you pass ordinances and assist with changing the behavior of those that choose to mistreat tenants. Here are six areas we recommend discussing:

  1. Notice requirements

The Town could pass an ordinance establishing a minimum of 30 days (for monthly lease) or 60 days (on a longer lease) notice before (1) no-cause eviction, (2) non-renewal of lease, (3) rent increase.

  1. Habitability and repairs

The Town could pass an ordinance that requires landlords to (1) maintain a minimum standard of habitability (including heat and appliances like stoves and refrigerators, beyond the plumbing, electricity and running water standard required by the state), and (2) make repairs to property as needed to keep premises in condition in which they were rented, other than to repair damage caused by tenant. This would, in addition to water/electricity as currently required. The Town could then create an inspection program, similar to how HUD requires habitability inspections for units rented with federal funding. The Town could also establish a small fund to support landlords in making these repairs.

  1. Fair Housing / Non-discrimination

The Town could pass an ordinance that prohibits discrimination against tenants, or potential tenants, in addition to existing federal Fair Housing protections. This ordinance would protect people based on immigration status and sexual orientation – two areas that are not protected by federal laws.

  1. Non-retaliation

The Town could pass an ordinance stating that landlords may not retaliate against tenants who exercise their other rights.

  1. Lease content and renewal

The Housing Department could provide a “standard lease” that includes all of the rights as outlined in the other sections here, to ensure that leases are in compliance. Additionally, the Town could pass an ordinance establishing (1) a “first right of refusal” when a lease is available for renewal and the existing tenants haven’t violated their lease in any way, (2) leases automatically default to month-to-month leases upon expiration of previous lease.

  1. Rent increase cap, a.k.a. rent stabilization

The Town could pass an ordinance preventing egregious rent increases. This is not “rent control,” but simply a limit on how much landlords can raise rent in a year. We recommend working with stakeholders including landlords, tenants, business owners and housing advocates to determine the appropriate percentage – for example, we know 20% or 40% are too much, but perhaps 3% or 5% or something similar, tied to inflation, would be acceptable.

Thank you for considering these options. Please know we truly appreciate your commitment to protecting the most vulnerable members of our community through tenant protections. ShelterJH is ready and willing to support your work through legal research, research into what ordinances have been effective in other communities, and conversations with the public and stakeholders.



Christine Walker

Policy Chair