As the affordable housing crunch draws attention around the region, a segment of the population exceptionally hard hit seems to be employees in the hospitality industry.

Cannon Beach is seeing the impact more than some other municipalities, because of its high percentage of resort hotels and restaurants.

One big employer there is Martin Hospitality, which owns the Stephanie Inn, the Surfsand Resort and other properties.

Company President Ryan Snyder said affordable housing for employees is an issue that's been on the company's radar in recent years.

"It's increasingly difficult to secure short term seasonal help, because of the housing situation," he said. "The strain has also become evident on our long term employees."

Snyder said at one time Cannon Beach had about 100 beach cottages available for rent at reasonable prices.

"All those old cottages are gone," he said. "I can't think of one that hasn't been sold."

With rent escalating on the few remaining rental properties, the cost of living has grown beyond the reach of most employees.

To address the problem, Martin Hospitality has plans in the works to develop two properties locally that could provide some relief for company workers.

"We have just under an acre of commercial property in midtown Cannon Beach," Snyder said. "We need to have some local housing for our seasonal help specifically, and we need that to be in town."

He said the company is also actively seeking a parcel of land to develop a workforce housing apartment complex between Cannon Beach and Seaside.

Snyder said such projects will likely become more numerous over the next few years as other employers see the wisdom of investing in employee housing.

"Everything is moving north," he said. "Employees are moving to Warrenton. A huge population shift is happening, and that will put a bigger strain on south county."

He said with the bulk of employees in the region employed in the service and retail industries, the shift will take its toll on Cannon Beach are surrounding areas.

"It's not as big an issue for someone to drive from Warrenton to Seaside," he said. "But Cannon Beach is a long way."

Snyder said September's Clatsop Housing Solutions Conference in Seaside was a huge step in the right direction, and he hopes the momentum generated by the gathering will continue.

"This was a really tough year. We were never able to get up to a fully staffed situation for Martin Hospitality," he said.

And Snyder said that judging by conversations he's had with other area entrepreneurs, Martin Hospitality is not the only firm that's feeling the employee crunch.

"I was listening to one small-business owner say that he had to close one day a week because he couldn't find enough staff to work," he said. "While he was telling me that, another said, 'We had to cut one hour a day because we couldn't find an extra employee.'"

Snyder said the company's workforce housing will help ease the financial burden on long term employees.

"We will leverage the cost down so they are affordable," he said. "You'll never know there's a difference. It might be subsidized by our companies as a cost of doing business."

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