Ledes from the Land of Enchantment

When your employees can’t afford to live here

It’s no surprise every hospitality business in and around Santa Fe is hiring. But according to a 2020 Santa Fe Housing Report produced by the Santa Fe Association of Realtors, approximately 40% of people who work in Santa Fe don’t live here. That’s not acceptable.

When families are priced out of their community and forced to relocate due to high housing costs, Santa Fe’s long-held tradition of hospitality is diminished. When a mother has to commute from Albuquerque, Rio Rancho or Española to work in Santa Fe, her children suffer, her gas expenses skyrocket, and Santa Fe’s good will and empathy take a hit. When a father or grandparents can’t help shuttle children and grandchildren to and from sporting events or summer camps, families become strained, children suffer, and Santa Fe’s historic charm is diminished. When a family of six needs to cram into a two-bedroom apartment to stay and live in the City Different, Santa Fe’s tagline, “Uncover your different” reveals the different reality facing our city’s most important asset: our resident workers.

La Fonda employs over 200 people, and in turn we understand our responsibility to our staff extends beyond our doors. Our employees are our extended family, and we care deeply about providing a healthy lifestyle and environment for them.

Let’s engage in a meaningful conversation about the housing crisis. Let’s consider changing the zoning requirements in the city and the county so more affordable housing units become available for the individuals and families that truly need different solutions. Let’s encourage our city councilors and county commissioners to make meaningful change.

If Santa Fe consistently welcomes over 2 million overnight visitors to the city annually, we can surely honor the workers who extend our signature hospitality to our guests. Our reputation is on the line. Let’s take care of those who take care of us. It’s time to act. If we don’t, our vibrant and diverse community – that attracts millions of travelers in search of authentic experiences – will sadly lose its identity and charm.

Jenny Kimball is chairwoman of the board of La Fonda on the Plaza, a hotel in historic downtown Santa Fe. The hotel’s general manager and director of sales contributed to this op-ed.

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