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Evening of Glitter Paves Way for Workforce Housing
Friday, June 17, 2022


The Argyros glittered with sequins Wednesday night as dozens of men and women came together for a fun-raiser for affordable housing.

Attendees got their disco groove going—tutus, big hair wigs and all--as Jamie Antolini of Night Train Entertainment turned the Tierney Theatre into a swanky New York Studio 54-style disco club.

“Aspen reminds me of Vegas and Miami,” said Antolini, who moved to Sun Valley a few years ago. “This place is cool casual but it rolls up the sidewalk at 8. “I wanted to throw a real party. I wanted to give people a reason to stay up past 8.”

Or course, the real reason people were there was to help address the valley’s need for housing for its nurses, firefighters and other workers.

Philanthropist Ali Long bought the party at a Higher Ground fundraiser and decided to use it to call attention to housing solutions in what she hopes is the first of what she calls “fun-raisers.”

“I know what Sarah (Michael) and others are doing but wanted others to know, as well. You are all here because you care,” she said, encouraging people to get out their phones and donate. “Whatever speaks to you the most, whatever cause speaks to you the most, is the right one for you.”

Long lined up four women whose organizations are trying to tackle the housing crisis in the valley to give short spiels about their work in hopes of attracting donations.

  • Sarah Michael described how Blaine County Housing Authority, which manages a little more than a hundred units, had just helped a family being evicted from the J&J Trailer Park near St. Luke’s hospital secure one of 14 furnished rooms at the Lift Tower Lodge at Ketchum’s south entrance.

“The couple was grateful they now have a place to live but sad because they couldn’t take their cat,” she said.

Michael added that the median advertised rent in Blaine County during Spring 2022 was $2,650. A person would need to have an annual income of $106,000 to afford that, she said.

  • Sally Gillespie introduced the Spur Community Housing Fund, which pools donations and makes grants to vetted programs, projects and organizations focused on housing local workers. Since it was founded in 2016 Spur has received $17 million in donations and granted $15 million.

    “When there’s a big issue, we take it on,” she added, describing the efforts by such groups as the Wood River Land Trust to develop workforce housing.

  • Mary Fauth described the emergency housing assistance that Blaine County Community Fund has provided to help individuals cover rent so they can stay in their homes. A grant of $2,000 covers rent for an average family for a month, she said.
  • Michelle Griffith, detailed how ARCH Community Housing Trust had helped create more than 150 workforce housing units in the valley, including the new Blaine Manor for senior citizens in the valley as well as families in need of affordable housing. The nonprofit is now working with St. Luke’s Wood River on building homes for nurses and doctors.

And, she noted, ARCH was $220,000 away from making a million-dollar challenge match that would be used for eight units of housing in the new Sunbeam subdivision on the old Cutter’s ranch.

A three-bedroom workforce housing rents for between $450 and $2,100 a month compared with the average market-rate monthly rent of $3,697. The annual income required to afford a market-rate three-bedroom rental is $147,887, she said. That’s three times the starting salary of a police officer or EMT. It’s 329 percent of a starting teacher’s salary.

“Our housing is not free. It’s affordable housing,” she added.

Among those attending the event was Ketchum photographer Thia Konig, who rode to the event on her Classic bicycle, an elegant fringed coat beneath a head of big yellow curly hair.

She was flush with her own ideas of what could help, describing how people could invest in a project they believe in in a format similar to the stock market.  

“It could be like a co-op,” she said. “With a smaller, taller footprint.”

Art Dahl and Marcia and Don Liebich have worked with St. Thomas Episcopal Church to raise money to help those displaced from the J&J Trailer Park move to The Meadows Trailer Park.

“Michelle Griffith and ARCH are helping to build four homes in Quigley Farm for hospital workers,” Dahl said. “The developer donated the land for the homes, and we’re going to do the landscaping.”

“It’s critical,” added Marcia Liebich. “We need our workers.”


J. McLaughlin will hold a Sip & Shop from noon to 4 p.m. Friday, June 17, to celebrate three years in Sun Valley. Fifteen percent of the sales that afternoon at the dress shop at 520 E. 4th St. in Ketchum will go to The Hunger Coalition.

The shop will have another Sip & Shop on Friday, June 24, to benefit the Ballet Sun Valley, which is bringing the Boston Ballet to Sun Valley on June 24 and 25.

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