RVs no longer affordable housing alternative in Treasure Valley

RV Rebound
Posted at 4:29 PM, Jun 29, 2021
and last updated 2021-06-29 21:03:51-04

ADA COUNTY, Idaho — Housing prices have increased a lot in the Treasure Valley in the last year, pricing out many prospective homeowners. So some have turned to their RV for a place to live.

Bill Downing has been living in his RV for the last 4 months because of increases in rent prices.

“I had a house that I was renting that went from $900 to $1600 a month. I rented another house, went from $1100 to $2000 a month," he said.

He's retired, but working at a box store to supplement Social Security and has been renting space on someone else's residential property, which is illegal in Ada County. The landowner, Mark Muthart, said an Ada County Code Enforcement Officer visited his property and gave Downing 30 days to move.

"(The zoning is) fairly restrictive, primarily for RVs. If people want to live in an RV, when I say live, if they want to reside in an RV for any length of time, the zoning regulations limit it to placing that RV in a campground or an RV park," Richard Beck, the Ada County Director of Development Services said.

Now Downing needs to find a solution by July 1 — but all the RV parks and campgrounds are either full or too expensive, he said.

"Parking my trailer somewhere and going and living under a bridge. I mean my options are nill," Downing said.

The Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities hear from people in similar situations daily, and many RV parks are full or have increased their prices.

“Having an RV is really not any advantage who’s looking for affordable housing," said Deanna Watson, Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities executive director.

What's the solution?

The Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities said they're searching for the solutions. To contact them for help, click here.

Beck said finding the solution is challenging, but one option is rewriting zoning codes, which is happening now, but won't be done for about a year.

“We haven’t specifically identified RV standards at this point that I’m aware of and what and how those could change in the new zoning code," Beck said.

If you'd like to share your opinion on zoning, you can fill out the form on the bottom of this web page.


In addition to The Boise City/Ada County Housing Authorities, the Boise/Ada County Homeless coalition has a list of resources for anyone who may be facing homelessness.

Watson also said they still have emergency rental assistance program funds for anyone who is unable to pay rent or ulitility bills because of COVID-19.