Meeting Preview: Commissioners to discuss new task force tackling housing shortage

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 2, 2022

The lack of housing that is affordable for prospective residents is not exclusive to Washington, but rather, it reaches the parameters of Beaufort County. It is an issue that is discussed time and time again. On Monday night (Dec. 5), Beaufort County Commissioners will decide whether to take action on solving the housing shortage. 

The commissioners will talk about creating a “task force for workforce affordable housing,” according to an agenda for the upcoming meeting. If approved by a majority vote, the task force’s membership would comprise of stakeholders who would collaborate to resolve an issue of affordable housing. This is not to be synonymous with low-income housing. Instead, this type of housing would appeal to prospective residents who want to work and live in Beaufort County instead of commuting from another county. This would also appeal to retired residents looking to move into moderately priced homes in the county. 

County Commissioner John Rebholz will present the idea of a task force for consideration on Monday evening. He said the lack of housing that is affordable has been an issue on his mind for awhile and one that “keeps coming up” when he has conversations with members of the community. He explained the lack of housing beginning to affect local businesses, the school district and hospital’s ability to recruit potential employees, because there is a limited amount of available housing. 

Leaders in business, education, healthcare, real estate and other entities would comprise the task force’s membership, Rebholz shared. It would be a diverse group of possibly a dozen people. Details of the task force would be flesh out at a later date if the idea is approved. 

Rebholz believes the housing shortage is the single biggest issue in Beaufort County. Without adding more single family homes, apartments and/or townhomes, the county cannot expand its tax base and increase workforce. Further, he speculates Beaufort County residents would see an increase in taxes to pay for available services if the housing shortage is not fixed and the county remains stagnant. In addition, fixing the housing shortage would mitigate the county population seeing another decline. 

According to the 2020 U.S. Census Beaufort County’s population has declined by 6.5% in the last decade which amounts to 3,107 for a total population of 44,652 residents.  

The Board of Beaufort County Commissioners meets the first Monday of the month at 5:30 p.m. at the county courthouse (136 W. Second St, Washington).