WILDWOOD, N.J. (CBS) – For the first time since the start of the pandemic, the J-1 Visa program is back at full capacity. It allows foreign students to work summer jobs down the shore. But, some Jersey Shore employers who hire international students through the program say they’re experiencing challenges finding affordable housing for them.
Morey’s Piers in Wildwood has about 550 seasonal employees on J-1 visas this summer.READ MORE: Montgomery County Officer Grazed By Bullet During Philly’s 4th Of July Fireworks Feels ‘Lucky’ To Walk Away From Incident
Denise Beckman, who’s in charge of government affairs and human resources for Morey’s Piers, said finding housing for their seasonal employees was more difficult this summer.
“We had to scramble a bit more to get enough housing for everyone, but we were able to do so,” Beckman said.
She said many of the rental properties they usually go to have now become Airbnb properties, whose owners are expecting to cash in on the first summer with no regionwide COVID-19 restrictions.READ MORE: PHL Airport Receiving $24 Million In Federal Funding For Terminal Improvements
“It’s important to be able to offer a full array of tourist options, and the only way to do that is to have enough employees,” Beckman said. “We’ve got to find some long-term solutions that make living here for seasonal workers affordable.”
While no solutions have been found yet, Wildwood leaders are discussing zoning changes to incentivize developers to build more rental units.
Despite the challenges, Beckman said they were able to get enough housing in Wildwood for their employees, including Migle Ziuraityte, who’s from Lithuania, and Iestyn Edwards, who’s from the United Kingdom.
“I was afraid, but I feel really good here,” Ziuraityte, said. “I’m happy that people here are really helpful, so it wasn’t that hard.”MORE NEWS: Derek Chauvin To Be Sentenced Thursday On Federal Charges
“They made it very easy for me arriving. It was just a deposit. Moving in with friends, and, yeah, it was a lot easier than I thought it was going to be,” Edwards said.