HORRY COUNTY, S.C. (WBTW) — Employers in Horry County are voicing concerns over the lack of affordable housing driving away qualified workers.
A group of community members and leaders are working to find a solution and want help from county officials.
Blakely Roof, the CEO of United Way of Horry County, said in the last eight months, its local resource number has seen nearly 1,600 calls for information on shelters, rent assistance and affordable housing.
“We are the largest county in request for housing assistance in the state per capita by far,” Roof said. “This problem is not going away.”
Recent data shows that for every seven homes built, four need to be built to fill the demand for Horry County’s existing workforce and what they can retain.
Census Bureau data shows the current area median household income in Horry County is $4,600 per month, making affordable housing anything that doesn’t exceed slightly more than $1,300 per month.
According to Rent.com, the average one-bedroom rental in Myrtle Beach currently goes for more than $1,500.
“40-80% AMI, that would be your firefighters, your nurses, your county employees, your school teachers and school staff but also your industry workers, you know, those manufacturing jobs that are coming into our area,” said Madison Cooper, a task force member of the Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors.
Myrtle Beach’s assistant city manager, Brian Tucker, said the city has been dealing with workforce housing issues for a while now. He said they’re working with Habitat for Humanity to find a city-wide solution.
“We recognize that the development that’s happening in the city is often out of the reach of most of our employees and most of our workforce,” Tucker said. “So, we’ve seen that real estate equation evolve over the last several years.”
The new task force is working to come up with a multi-family workforce tax incentive that would make developers inclined to add and maintain housing with rent prices in accordance to income.
Once a plan is finalized, the group will propose it to council and ask for help to create those incentives.
“Now it’s time for Horry County to come into that conversation and find a way to support not only our workers who are here to keep our businesses and economy going, but also those investors,” Cooper said.
Habitat for Humanity will present its workforce housing update to Myrtle Beach City Council on Tuesday, which Tucker said will impact the new task force and its efforts.