NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodWood River Valley


ARCH: the foundation of affordable Blaine County housing

Advocates for Real Community Housing are finding solutions for affordable housing in Blaine County
Posted at 3:45 PM, Dec 13, 2023

BLAINE COUNTY, Idaho — ARCH has developed a variety of methods to supplement housing with public and private finances.

  • ARCH has supported two senior living facilities, nine homeowner's projects, and has 18 rental units completed or in the works.
  • The organization's efforts have addressed the housing shortage in communities like Sun Valley and Hailey, prompting a shift in perception among elected officials regarding the importance of affordable housing.
  • To overcome the limitations of federal grants, ARCH has diversified its funding sources, including collaboration with the private sector.
  • ARCH's success underscores the importance of collaboration within communities, involving various elements like Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, and other stakeholders.

(Below is the transcript from the broadcast story)

Research has found that more than half of Americans aren't able to purchase their own homes. To find out how ARCH or Advocates for Real Community Housing has been successful, I sat down with their Executive Director Michelle Griffith.

To date, the group's board and four employees have supported two senior living facilities, nine homeowner's projects, and have 18 rental units completed or in the works.

Griffith told me, "When I started 15 years ago, elected officials and appointed officials were not entirely convinced we needed affordable housing or it was a public sector issue."

This has definitely changed over the years with towns like Sun Valley and Hailey coming together to purchase the Ellsworth Inn because the communities realized, "...we are all impacted. Our city, our citizens are impacted by this housing shortage. Without a functioning school district, hospital, and first responders, and every other business, without a grocery store, our citizens can't live here" explained Griffith.

This shifted ARCH's strategy. By branching out from the restrictions of federal grants to the private sector as a second avenue of receiving financing, it allows them to support a broad socio-economic class. They have been successful because of the implementation of a practical arrangement based on a deed-first program that keeps renters and homeowners from spending more than 30% of their income on housing.

By getting the hospital and school district's attention, they're able to look at who is next. This allows them to see what each person can afford and arrange a rent based on their income level. Griffith declared, "It has completely changed the way that house pricing is set."

An example of the success is a partnership with the town of Hailey, where they have arranged a 0% interest differed second lien in exchange for a locals-only deed restriction, ensuring Blaine County residents will live there in perpetuity.

Griffith stated, "It also puts ARCH in the chain of title, ensuring that the program's intentions are carried out indefinitely."

These objectives are vital for the community.

Shannon Nichols, ARCH's Director of Development and Engagement explained, "Transitional housing is a powerful component of prevention work. When a child lives in a safe, healthy environment, that is a choice they make in the future."

This correlates with Griffith's initial statement that "Everything suffers when housing suffers. Pulling housing into balance relieves pressure on other agencies.

This story reiterates the role collaboration plays in our community. No one can do this alone. It requires every element in Blaine County, whether it be Sun Valley, Ketchum, Hailey, or all the various pieces that make this place our home, to come together to find real solutions.

Thankfully ARCH is the core of this group. Due to their success housing committees from across the country are coming to them for guidance.