Thomas Odenthal in his MeadowView condo after he secured a two-bedroom unit during Phase 1. The waiting list was long and he is happy to now have a place to call home. PHOTO BY BECKY BROCKIE

A home of his own

deed restricted workforce housing generates stability

Thomas Odenthal embraces the Big Sky life as fully as anyone. Adventuring is something he has always done, it was finding a solid home base that was the problem.

Like many locals, he started off in the community living in employee housing and hit a long phase of housing uncertainty, though he eventually lucked out and found a spot in Hidden Village. Still, the dream of his own place never went away. He just believed it was beyond his grasp.

In 2014, the affordable housing crunch hit a fever pitch, people began to talk, and a study was conducted. By 2016, the Big Sky Community Housing Trust (BSCHT) was initiated by the Big Sky Chamber of Commerce under the umbrella of the Human Resources Development Council. Now, an independent 501c3, it continues to serve as a vehicle to address escalating employee housing issues. Supported by Big Sky Resort Area District (Resort Tax) funding for the purchase of land off of Little Coyote Rd., the concept for MeadowView Condominiums was hatched. The homes are able to be sold significantly below market value and homebuyers can receive down payment assistance up to $20,000 – also thanks to Resort Tax funding, as well as Yellowstone Club Community Foundation.

“The opportunity to purchase a home at this price level is unprecedented in Big Sky. During this period of financial uncertainty, it’s a great time for hardworking locals to acquire the security of a beautiful new home,” BSCHT program director Laura Seyfang said.

Odenthal had a friend who convinced him to take the first time home buyers class with BSCHT and to put his name on the list for one of the deed-restricted MeadowView Condominiums. The 52 units off of Little Coyote Rd. represent a major step in permanent affordable workforce housing – housing for people like Odenthal – who have been in Big Sky and want to stay.

“I worked hard to get in here,” he said of his assortment of jobs including teaching kids mountain biking in the summer and as a lift operator at Big Sky Resort in the winter. “If you’ve got it on paper that you work hard – you can get a place here.”

He initially did not believe he would be able to afford it, but the help and support available made it possible.

“I kept being reached-out to by Mary Wheeler (broker with PureWest Christie’s International Real Estate – Big Sky). Between her and Elex McAlear at First Security Bank, they were able to figure out how to get me in here,” he said.

A drastic decrease in the long term rental market coupled with a dramatic increase in rent for the remaining homes are just some of the challenges for workers in seasonal resort towns, Wheeler wrote in a letter to Resort Tax.

“Stability for our workforce members is important to the overall health of our Big Sky community. The cost of living is high here for most of the wages tendered, and traditional home loans with 20% down payments are out of reach for most of these buyers, even at controlled purchase prices.” The down payment assistance provided by BSCHT has proved instrumental in helping locals own homes, she explained.

Now, Odenthal rents-out the other bedroom in his two bedroom condo to his friend, who is also a longtime local.

“I’m loving it. The only thing I have to complain about is the constant construction of all the units around me, but that will end eventually. Besides that, the place is really awesome – everything I need and has some nice amenities,” he said. He likes his neighbors. In other places he has lived, the people have been more transient or were renting an Airbnb for a few nights. This is a community full of people on the same page – people who go to work so they can immerse themselves in mountain activities after they clock-out.

He said it is the best, most affordable option for people who want to live in Big Sky.

More information can be found at http://bigskyhousingtrust.com

More Information

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