Jackson State Representative Proposes Empty House Fee To Address Housing Shortage

Nov 15, 2019

Credit Public Domain

Jackson State Representative Mike Yin is proposing a bill that could help address the affordable housing shortage in his district. It would allow counties to charge a fee for homes left empty more than six months out of the year.

Yin says in 2018 the average median home price of a single family home in Teton County was one $1.8 million. In 1990, the median home price was about $172,000.

"We realize that each additional home that stays empty puts a real cost on all of the surrounding homes around it," said Yin. "So that comes into the form of land that isn't being used to house someone as well as increasing the property tax values on every single person that's around them."

Representative Yin's proposed legislation will introduce a county optional flat rate fee based on square footage of homes that stand empty for over six months a year. Yin said the fee would more evenly distribute the cost of high property tax created by the vacant homes.

"So that helps you realize that fuller homes are more worthwhile to the communities than the empty homes and then you end up just disincentivizing the empty homes because the real cost of an empty home is actually captured by that that fee which incentivizes more for housing," he said.

Yin said in order to avoid the fee, homeowners could rent out their homes. He said this could help with housing for the local workforce. The proposed bill will need two-thirds support of the Wyoming House in order to be considered.

Have a question about this story? Contact the reporter, Kamila Kudelska, at kkudelsk@uwyo.edu.