Understaffing and inflated rents remain a persistent community problem

The Tahoe City Post Office.
Rob Galloway/Sierra Sun

TAHOE CITY, Calif. – James Wolford, a longtime West Shore resident, sits outside as the sun sets to enjoy another alpine summer night, only one thing is missing: his wife is once again late coming home from work.

The local US Post Office is Tahoe City is one of many local businesses struggling with staff shortages in the Tahoe Basin. According to Wolford, there are only two employees currently running the location, his wife and the postman. With local businesses feeling the pressure of lack of employees, there is a justifiable reason why businesses are understaffed.

“This situation has been building up for quite some time,” Wolford said. “Tahoe has become so expensive that our local businesses that keep this town going aren’t paying enough for people to live here.”

Lack of affordable housing has been a growing problem in local communities over the past two years, and through 2022 homes are still being bought and rented at an alarming rate; ultimately leaving little room for maneuver for those looking for profitable accommodation. With the pandemic providing many with the ability to work remotely, it has led to a huge influx of people into local communities of new residents moving into second homes or buying new homes, and according to Wolford, some have even evicted tenants. . .

According to a report by Redfin, the average selling price of a home in Lake Tahoe and Truckee in June 2022 is currently $1.2 million; and according to a report by Zillow, the median rent in South Lake Tahoe is currently $3,000/month compared to the median rental rate for Tahoe City and Incline Village at $4,000/month, and the median rate for Truckee at $4,250/month.

There are a small number of home rentals available at any given time in the Tahoe and Truckee communities. Wolford’s solution is to proactively continue to bridge the gap between millionaires and middle-income people in the community to help support the idea of ​​not just a living wage, but sustainable housing. .

“I’ve seen a handful of landlords wanting to rent their homes to locals, but that’s still sorely lacking,” Wolford said. “A lot of people have worked for the County Board of Supervisors to require employee or low-cost housing, and there’s a little, but really none.”

When analyzing the understaffing currently occurring around the Tahoe Basin, as many businesses have slowed down during the pandemic, local USPS locations in Tahoe and Truckee have done quite the opposite. With the lack of local employees, it has been difficult to find potential employees who live full-time and locally in the Tahoe/Truckee area. According to David Rupert, Lake Tahoe Regional Strategic Communications Specialist for USPS, said there is an ongoing need for new employees.

“We continue to actively hire throughout the Tahoe Basin and in Truckee,” Rupert said. “Unlike some companies that have seen their workload drop due to the pandemic, mail has remained stable, and we continue to grow and expand.”

While the lack of affordable housing has been a lakewide issue for some time, finding potential employment generally isn’t. Thanks to major platforms such as Indeed, the list of positions currently open ranges from housekeeping positions to administrative roles with local city officials. Currently, Indeed offers over 1,000 jobs in a single community around the Tahoe area.

At the various USPS post offices around Lake Tahoe, there is a specific need for entry-level positions, and these positions offer long-term benefits, providing consistent work and security, which many many local jobs generally do not offer. These entry level positions are currently offered for Truckee, Tahoe City and South Lake Tahoe locations and each location is actively taking applicants.

“There are currently 25 total openings across the lake, including Truckee, to work with the USPS,” Rupert said. “We have needs both in the office as a clerk and working for rural transporters. Eventually, many of these new hires will have the opportunity to transition into full-time career jobs, with the full range of federal benefits, including retirement, health care, life insurance and generous vacations.

Even with the proactive efforts of the USPS, there is still a significant understaffing at most local post offices in the basin. According to a press release issued by the USPS in March 2022, the South Lake Tahoe Post Office held a week-long hiring event earlier this year, hiring for various positions with various skills, with a salary of range ranging from $18 to $23/hour.

While the opportunities offered by local businesses such as the USPS, for many the cost of living is still far too high to make sense. To further address this issue to make living in Tahoe/Truckee communities more feasible and working those available positions, Wolford mentioned that housing costs should be better tailored to the local community.

“I’ve seen a handful of landlords wanting to rent their homes to locals, but that’s still sorely lacking,” Wolford said. “A lot of people have worked for the County Board of Supervisors to require employee or low-cost housing, and there’s a little, but really none.”

The idea of ​​implementing more affordable housing options has been a topic of discussion for over a decade, and while there are some, they are hard to come by. In hopes of alleviating understaffing and inflated housing rates, landlords and property managers must be part of the equation.

“One thing that might help spread the word and keep employees in the community would be if landlords could rent from a post office or other service employee that we all rely on,” Wolford said. “It’s essential for our community, we need them to continue. I don’t want to see this become a community of millionaires, that would be crazy. Not what I think Tahoe City and other nearby communities are supposed to offer.

For more information on current jobs available through the USPS, visit usps.com/careers


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