Blaine County P&Z approves Greenhorn First Responder Housing

Blaine County P&Z approves Greenhorn First Responder Housing
Published: Sep. 15, 2022 at 3:15 PM MDT
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HAILEY, Idaho (KMVT/KSVT) —Affordable and available housing is an ongoing issue in Blaine County, even for first responders. The cost of living can range for a one-bedroom to two-bedroom housing unit anywhere from $2,000 to $4,000 a month, causing headaches for local fire chiefs.

“It’s getting harder and harder to recruit and retain firefighters, whether it is paid on-call firefighters or career firefighters,” said North Blaine county Fire District Rich Bauer. “When we have job openings, there is just not a number of people out there to draw from.”

Sun Valley Fire Cheif Taan Robrahn added, “years ago, our residency requirements were just within the City of Sun Valley or in this general area. Now, we are starting to expand these more and more to get qualified personnel.

Now there is some good news. The Blaine County Planning and Zoning Commission will allow the North Blaine County Fire District to install the first of four first responder housing units at the Greenhorn Fire Station this year.

“This is going to be the site of our future emergency first responder housing. What it is going to consist of is six two-bedroom units and two one-bedroom units. They will be placed where the old railroad runs along here,” Robrahn said.

The Greenhorn Fire Station currently has six residential units for career and on-call firefighters. Additionally, Robrahn said the September fires, which include the Limelight Condo Fire and Foss Fork Fire, have shown how important it is to have first responders living in the communities they work in, and not miles away.

“They will be able to get on apparatus and respond straight away. Rather than when the tones go out having to drive from their house to station, get on a fire truck to respond,” Robrahn said.

The North Blaine County Fire District contracts with the Sun Valley Fire Department and Sun Valley Fire Fighters will be prioritized when the housing becomes available. Right now the district is currently seeking donations to match the $950,000 they received from the City of Sun Valley and Blaine County, and itself.

“The whole purpose of raising these funds is to keep our rents as low as possible and affordable as possible for our first responders,” Bauer said.

The project will cost around $3 million. The first set of housing is expected to be ready at the end of the year, and the remaining next summer.

Donations can be made through the Spur Community Foundation via credit card via tinyurl.com/greenhornhousing, by check payable to “Spur Community Foundation,” with Greenhorn Housing noted on the memo field, and mailed to: PO Box 6184, Ketchum, ID 83340; or by ACH, wire or public securities by calling Spur at 208-450-2600.