In pricey town, housing an employee perk

Teton Motors’ 12 rental units range from a studio to a three-bedroom apartment. Auge declined to say how much employees pay monthly in rent but did describe it as “anywhere from 40 to 60 percent under market.”
In the fourth quarter of 2021, the average market rent in Jackson for a one-bedroom unit was $2,141 per month while a two-bedroom unit was $2,772 per month, according to the Jackson/Teton County Affordable Housing Department, which collects rental data on the town’s five main apartment complexes.

Teton Motors’ units are rented out on a month-to-month basis, and employees can live in them as long as they wish, Auge said.

“We realized that there was always going to be this need,” he said. “There was always going to be a housing shortage. Especially during the peak seasons, summer and winter. And obviously, we’re not a seasonal business. We needed to have people have someplace year-round.”

People working all types of jobs with the group have used the employee housing over the years, from salespeople and detailers to managers and office staff. One employee rented a unit for eight years. Some workers used the housing while they saved enough money to buy a home outside of Teton County where houses cost significantly less but require a longer commute, Auge said.

Marilyn Garcia, Teton Motors’ title clerk and receptionist, rents a three-bedroom apartment above the collision center. She previously worked for the company and left but returned a year ago, drawn in by the housing offer.

“That’s why I came back to work here,” said Garcia, who noted she pays $1,500 per month in rent. “I have three kids. So when they had a three-bedroom apartment available, I jumped on it.”

Instead of a 45-minute commute each way from other towns along the Idaho-Wyoming border, Garcia walks a block and a half to the dealership and gets to live and work in Jackson.

“For me and my situation, if I did not have housing, I would not be able to live in Jackson,” she said.

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