Myrtle Beach accepts $128,000 grant to help address workforce housing shortage

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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) — The city of Myrtle Beach said it’s facing a shortage of affordable housing options for workers (workforce housing) and accepted a $128,000 grant that will fund research to develop strategies to address the shortage.

The grant comes from a donor through the Waccamaw Community Foundation while Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. will conduct the study.

The most recent census data shows more than 85% of workers in Myrtle Beach do not live within city limits. On Apartments.com, the going rate for a one bedroom apartment in Myrtle Beach is more than $1,000.

Editor’s note: At the time of writing the television story, the average price was $1,369. Now, it shows $1,193.

Michael Mancuso, executive director of the Waccamaw Community Foundation, said affordable housing options for workers in the city are moving farther away from the core of the community.

“We’ve seen the prices of housing go way up and become out of reach for some individuals,” Mancuso said. “The need for that equitable housing is just growing exponentially as we grow.”

Mark Kruea, spokesperson for the City of Myrtle Beach, said workforce housing is something the city needs to work on as it continues to grow.

“We would like to see the people who work in the community be able to afford to live in the community, and that’s where workforce housing comes in,” Kruea said. “It’s not subsidized. It’s regular people housing.”

Chad Charles is the assistant executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Horry County and also serves on the city’s Workforce Housing Advisory Committee. He said there is not an exact target number of housing units the city is working toward just yet but said a good start would be about 500 new affordable housing options each year for the next ten years.

“That ranges to everything from rental units to home ownership units,” Charles said. “It could be single family, it could be attached single family units, so it’s a broad range.”

Charles added that the new affordable housing options could be renovated buildings, converted buildings or completely new ones. Kruea said the city is exploring housing options inside future building projects in the Arts & Innovation District.

Kruea said increasing affordable housing options for the city’s workforce benefits the city’s economy. He said Myrtle Beach’s economy has been a “one trick pony,” reliant on tourism for more than 80 years and that more workforce housing would help diversify the economy.

“Having workforce housing — having people who live in the community work in the community also provides new customers for the businesses that are here that aren’t necessarily tourism related,” Kruea said.

The study is estimated to last between three to six months, and Charles said more housing options won’t come immediately thereafter. He said city leaders are taking the issue seriously and are making sure “it’s done right.”

“It just takes a little time and patience, but it’s coming,” Charles said. “Everybody is working extremely hard.”

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