CLEAR CREEK COUNTY, Colo. — After months of summer, the snow has finally arrived at Loveland Ski Area. Now the challenge is hiring enough people to run the resort.
"We are so excited to get going for winter. It finally looks like winter up here," said Karen Cameron, Human Resources Director at Loveland. "We definitely are still hiring, and it’s difficult to hire. We have enough staff to get open, and that’s our first target."
Colorado mountain towns have become so unaffordable it’s threatening the industry that made them popular in the first place. Ski areas like Loveland are now working to find affordable housing for their seasonal employees.
"This year we’re probably going to be able to house about 10% of our staff," Cameron said. "We probably need to do more going forward to be able to staff the operation."
Twenty-five miles down the road from Loveland, the old Bearadise Motel in Idaho Springs is rebranding as Lift Landing.
Loveland Ski Area is leasing the building to provide an affordable place to live in a part of Colorado that’s increasingly becoming completely unaffordable.
Thirty Loveland employees will be able to live here this season. An additional 30 international students will live at a different location and also work at the resort.
"We need employees, and Clear Creek County is getting more expensive to live in. People are finding it harder and harder to find housing when they work a seasonal job," Cameron said. "It is very expensive. And there’s not a lot of properties. It’s pretty limited. Supply and demand. It’s becoming harder and harder for people moving into the community to actually buy in the community."
Communities all across Colorado are dealing with an affordable housing crisis. Summit County is offering homeowners money to take their rentals off sites like Airbnb or VRBO and instead lease them to seasonal workers.
For Loveland, the motel is just a start. The ski area hopes to provide more housing in the coming years.
"We’ll have to get creative, because there’s not a lot available and the prices are going up," Cameron said.
Because without employees, the snow alone isn’t enough to run a ski area.
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