Skip to Content


Rep. Simpson’s Latest Community Project Funding Op-Ed

Standing up for Stanley

WASHINGTON— Today, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson wrote an op-ed highlighting the importance of Community Project Funding and its role in providing critical support for Idaho’s Second Congressional District. One such priority is constructing affordable housing for temporary and permanent employees and their families in Stanley, Idaho. 

Standing up for Stanley 

By Rep. Mike Simpson 

The full op-ed is available below.  

If you’ve lived in Idaho for any amount of time, you know that access to our abundance of mountains, forests, rivers, and other wild spaces is one of the best things about living in our state. You may also know that since nearly two-thirds of Idaho is federal land, Idaho communities near these beautiful spaces face unique challenges that come with having the federal government as their next-door neighbor.   

I take my responsibility seriously to make sure these communities have the tools they need to succeed given the challenges of a limited tax base, restrictive land use policies, and the difficulty of providing services to thousands of visitors each.  As a lifelong Idahoan, and after decades of working with Idaho’s rural communities, I am in a far better position to know what these communities need than are bureaucrats in Washington, DC.  This is why I use the Community Project Funding (CPF) program to direct funding within the existing federal budget to projects that matter in Idaho, like the Stnley Workforce Housing Project, bringing Idaho tax dollars back to work for Idahoans.  

Stanley, Idaho, is the gateway to some of the most beautiful places in our state.  Every year tens of thousands of people come through Stanley on their way to hike, camp, and fish in the Sawtooth National Recreation Area and surrounding wilderness areas.  This number has been increasing rapidly in recent years due to publicity about the quality of recreation in the area. What makes Stanley so attractive, however, is also one of its greatest challenges.  Surrounded by national forests and located in a county comprised of 97 percent federal land, Stanley has no room to grow.  This makes it difficult for local businesses to prosper.  In particular, it is nearly impossible for many of the workers who come to Stanley as river guides, outfitters, retail workers, and search and rescue teams to find an affordable place to live.   

Stanley’s economy depends on recreation tourism, but without adequate housing, those looking for the jobs that make the local economy run often must turn them down.  Some local businesses already are reducing their hours due to the lack of workers, despite the fact that recreation demand is increasing. Stanley’s year-round population of 116 swells to around 650 during the five-month recreation season.  Like private land, housing in Stanley is limited, and what housing there is costs far too much for these lower- to moderate-income workers to afford.  This means that nearly one-third of the mostly-seasonal workers in the greater Stanley area struggle to find adequate housing.  Many of them end up camping in the surrounding national forests, a solution that is unfeasible during the winter months when temperatures plummet to below zero.   

Addressing the affordable housing crisis in Stanley requires federal action.  In 2015, I transferred four acres of federal land to the City of Stanley for the purpose of providing affordable housing.  High construction costs make it difficult to develop this land for its intended purposes, but the City of Stanley has found partial funding and interested partners to undertake the work.  This year I was able to secure the final piece needed to complete the Stanley Workforce Housing Project, a $4 million economic development grant that will be used to construct affordable housing for up to 80 temporary and permanent employees and their families.  These funds, together with contributions from the City of Stanley and from private investors willing to guarantee housing affordability, will help secure a bright future for Stanley workers and sustain the recreation-based quality of life Idahoans enjoy. By making year-round housing available, this project also provides better opportunities for economic growth.  With this CPF funding, Stanley now has the tools to undertake a project that will make an immense difference for those who live, work, and recreate in this community.   

I consider it my responsibility to advocate for Idaho’s priorities within a responsible federal budget.  No federal bureaucrat in Washington, DC, knows Idaho the way you and I do, and leaving all budget decisions to federal agencies would be a failure of my responsibility to communities like Stanley. What is more, it wouldn’t reduce the federal budget by a single penny.  As your representative in Congress, I will continue to fight for impactful, important Idaho projects within a responsible federal budget any day.