Jersey Shore town plans to purchase motel to house lifeguards amid high rental costs

A lifeguard protects the beaches at Wildwood.

A lifeguard protects the beaches in Wildwood. (Emma Lee/WHYY)

A Jersey Shore town is getting creative in its mission to recruit and retain lifeguards in the face of high housing costs.

Officials in Long Beach Township are seeking to purchase and remodel the Long Beach Inn to house Long Beach Township Beach Patrol members during the summer, according to a report from The Sandpaper.

They passed a $1.5 million bond ordinance for the purchase and renovation, which would lead to lodging for 40 people by June. Long Beach Township plans to recruit lifeguards from Europe and Australia to fill a staffing decline that typically begins in mid-August.

Staffing lifeguard stands has always been an issue in August, when college students and teachers return to school responsibilities.

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Capt. Geoff Rife of the Cape May Beach Patrol told NBC last summer that the shortage there was unprecedented. Authorities cited expensive housing at the Shore, low starting pay and academic responsibilities, such as internships.

Stone Harbor is responding to the problem by significantly raising pay.

The pay for new lifeguards will increase from $100 daily last year to $155 in 2020, according to a Cape May County Herald report. The same increase applies across the pay scale.

A guard with 15 years of experience will move from $128 to $183 per day in 2020. Beach badge checkers will receive an increase from $9.50 to $16 last year to $12 to $18.50 in 2020.

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