Mountain News 

Aspen, Sun Peaks set new industry standard

Page 3 of 7

ASPEN, Colo. — One way or another, the foreign workers who flooded into Aspen this winter are finding places to sleep.

Unlike during the last several years, the town’s seasonal housing quarters filled up rapidly this year. Housing officials then called upon residents of the Roaring Fork Valley to make their spare rooms available, reports The Aspen Times. Many did.

Others are couch-surfing or floor-crashing, although they are certainly not the first to do so. Aspen’s director of housing, Tom McCabe, recalls many nights at the ground-floor level during his first winter in Aspen.

Eyes are being cast on the Aspen Skiing Co. to expand its housing for seasonal employees. The company adds 2,000 workers each winter, but has housing for only 200. Projects at Snowmass could yield 100 affordable housing units, including housing for seasonal employees. Local government officials also intend to make a strong push to get the company to build seasonal housing if and when it proposes a redevelopment of the base of the Buttermilk ski area.

Foreign students homeless

SUMMIT COUNTY, Colo. — Summit County has also experienced a number of workers from foreign countries, particularly from Argentina, Chile and Brazil, who have been unable to find places to stay.

The Summit Daily News breaks down the flood into three components. First, there are those who came via H-2B visas. That program restricts the person to one employer while in the United States. As such, their employers tend to make arrangements for housing.

But others use J-1 or student visas. Companies are set up to expedite this. The Daily News reports that the cost to the students is about $2,000, which pays for plane tickets and administration and yields the five-month visas.

Those with these J-1 visas usually have two options: Taking jobs in which housing is provided. Typically, however, wages are lower, such as at fast-food restaurants. But other J-1 students enrolled through another program, which costs $100 less at the outset, can find their own employment and housing.

The latter such students who showed up in November found housing, but those who came shortly before Christmas have floundered. One problem is that many homeowners want a six-month to one-year lease, something the students cannot commit to with visas that limit stays to a four months with one month tacked on for travel.

Among those participating in the program is the Copper Mountain Resort. However, the housing for employees is full for the first time since the winter of 2002. The resort recruited 100 J-1 students this past summer, but continues to see students arriving in search of both jobs and places to stay.

Latest in Mountain News

More by Allen Best

© 1994-2020 Pique Publishing Inc., Glacier Community Media

- Website powered by Foundation