An iconic Chelan restaurant where locals and tourists enjoy home cooked food along with the gift of gab, the Apple Cup employs a waitstaff who are ambassadors for the town’s natural charm. Yet, for one of the staff members, it’s a town that she may never call home.
“It’s extremely frustrating knowing I can never live in the town I work in,” begins Kristyl Heath, “and prices are only going to continue to rise, pushing the working class citizens out to make way for the wealthy.”
The Apple Cup waitress and single mother of two children, Kristyl makes a 25-mile commute at the end of every shift to a house she rents in Mansfield. While housing is more affordable there, the costs of her 50- mile roundtrip commute negate some of that savings, including gas money and additional wear and tear on her car.
But the hidden costs are just as real, including the time she spends away from her children and the fact that, in winter, just getting to and from work can be dangerous.
“I get asked very often, especially in the winter, why I don’t move to Chelan. My answer is always the same. I work here, but could never afford to live here,” explains Kristyl.
A town that does not offer affordable homes for its own workforce affects more than just the workers. Kristyl’s children do not attend Chelan schools, which lowers our enrollment and the opportunity to attract more teachers to our valley. As her family patronizes businesses in their own town, Chelan store owners are missing out on potential customers, while also lowering the tax the city collects to improve services, roads and parks for all our citizens.
Plus, should Kristyl decide to find employment closer to home, the Apple Cup will lose a valuable employee and her customers will miss exchanging friendly hellos from a waitress they’ve come to expect to see when they walk through the door.