Housing needs for teachers, retirees and job applicants

Published 8:29 am Wednesday, February 28, 2024

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As Carol and I have gotten older, we have looked at the possibility of downsizing and moving into a smaller house. Our yard and house are quite big and require a lot of work. The yard work I can mostly do but have been advised by the doctor to stay off ladders.  

We looked at several houses in Beaufort County and are surprised at the number of new houses being built. What we don’t see are smaller starter homes that would be available at a lower price.

Statewide, the median house sale price in November of 2023 was $309,667. In April 2020, the median price was only $201,000. These numbers can vary depending on the source but the trend is up by more than 50 percent the last four years. Factor in increases in higher mortgage rates and ownership becomes much more costly.

Listing of new houses in Washington includes a 1,764-square-foot ranch in Sommerset at $263,900, a two-story 2,164-square-foot D.R. Horton house reduced to $255,000 and a 1,307-square-foot ranch on Lennington Lane for $219,440. The listings of the smaller homes are a rarity and demand are greater for the larger homes.

Maybe 1,700 to 2,200 square feet is considered a starter now-a-days but is out of reach of what many young families can afford. There are some older homes available throughout the county below $250,000 but not as many as one would think. These are out-of-reach prices for most young people.  

When I first got married, a 2,000-square-foot house was considered large. There were a lot of smaller houses being built between 1,100 and 1,400 square feet.

I recently attended the Beaufort County Housing Taskforce meeting. The task force is addressing the need for lower cost housing throughout the county. It is believed that affordable housing will make the county more desirable for workers, school teachers and businesses

This was my first meeting so I have missed a lot. They appear to be in the fact-finding phase.  

At this meeting, the task force looked at the availability of properties that can be developed and what Bertie County is doing to address their housing needs for teachers. It’s a hot topic due to the shortage of teachers. There was also a presentation by ECU.

When schools were shut down during Covid, many teachers found other jobs and left the teaching profession. Less teachers are available because young people are pursuing other occupations. Medical is particularly strong due the higher rate of pay.

Due to the shortage of teachers, Beaufort County needs to do something. We are competing with other counties near us that pay higher supplements and bonuses. This has helped some in Pitt County but shortages exist and makes it harder for Beaufort County.

I don’t know what the answer is but the need is dire. Beaufort County needs more teachers. I support the Beaufort County Workforce Task Force and wish them success.

Al Klemm is a Washington resident and a former Beaufort County Commissioner.