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Alaskan Companies are Building Housing for Employees
July 26, 2022

Alaskan Companies are Building Housing for Employees

by The CE Shop Team

Alaska’s Low Supply Leads to Lack of Workforce 

As the saying goes, “if you build it, they will come,” and Alaska employers are banking on this idea by building housing for workers, to combat unaffordable housing, low supply, and a severe labor shortage.  

Alaska’s Housing Headaches 

Alaska, like most states, has low housing supply with the current supply being 1,428 active listings.  

On top of low supply, the median sale price in Alaska is $372,200, a 5.5% increase year-over-year.

"Things were bad before, but now we're getting to desperate times," said Krystal Hoke, a real estate agent and Girdwood resident. 

Alaska-Based Employers Taking Action 

A large employer in the state, Alyeska Resort in Girdwood, AK is building a $6.6 million facility designed for employees, who are struggling to find affordable housing. Throughout the state, other employers are converting former military barracks and an old ferry facility into employee lodging. 

Alyeska Resort has felt the shortage of workers and decided to step up and solve the problem. The new housing project is hopeful to increase employee longevity as well as attract more workers for their seasonal peaks in tourism.  

For employees, it’s been difficult to find affordable housing when potential housing is being marketed on Airbnb and other short-term rental platforms. Rent prices in Alaska have increased, especially in popular cities like Anchorage (1 hour from Girdwood) to the tune of 17% year-over-year. Currently, the median rent price for a one-bedroom apartment in Anchorage is $1,187. 

Alaskan Companies are Building Housing for Employees

Alyeska Resort Project Details 

Alyeska Resort recently began their new housing project, a three-story building that’s able to house 120 people in 70 studio and one-bedroom apartments.  

The resort is optimistic these new apartments will help their employees and put a roof over their heads. Currently, some of the town’s workforce can be found living in their cars and tents because they’ve been priced out of the rental market. This isn’t the resort’s first affordable housing project. Fifteen years ago, they built a workforce housing facility for lower-level workers like ski-lift attendants. Now that affordable housing has become an issue for all income-levels, Alyeska is addressing housing needs for all employee levels.  

Former Military Barracks Renovation 

In Homer, AK, the struggle for housing is also creating a shortage in the workforce. Anchor 907, a government contractor owned by two retired Navy vets is addressing this problem by repurposing a former military barracks. The military barracks is located in Elmendorf-Richardson near Anchorage and needs to be moved to Homer.  

Similar to Girdwood, vacation rentals in the state are causing a severe lack of rental options.  

"A yurt is going for $2,100 a month, with no running water, between June and September, on Airbnb," said Michael Daniel, co-owner of Anchor 907. "It just shows you how impossible it is for workers here." 

The barracks is made up of small houses and are available at a steep discount ($750 a month or less). Each home is about 15 years old, and comes with shared bathrooms, kitchens, and laundry machines. Anchor 907 says this project will house around 120 people.  

Re-Purposed State Ferry Project 

Ketchikan, a small town in Southeast Alaska, is another popular tourist destination that has been struck with a labor shortage, high rent prices, and a workforce struggling to find housing.  

The town is addressing this issue by trying to re-zone and change codes that would allow for more affordable housing construction, along with more accessory dwelling units.  

Beyond the local municipality’s efforts, there has also been a private effort to get creative with affordable housing options. Recently, a business group purchased a historic Malaspina ferry station for $130,000. They plan on repurposing the facilities to house employees at an affordable rate that will ease housing woes. Along with facility housing, the ferry itself will be retrofitted to house employees with 280 beds.  

"I hope what we're doing is a small part of the solution (for Ketchikan)," said John Binkley, president of the business group. 

Throughout the nation, rent prices have skyrocketed, creating issues for those who rent and often are the backbone of popular tourist destinations. This issue was once a problem for employees living and working in expensive ski-towns like Vail and Aspen, but over the past three years, it has impacted all tourist destinations. 

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