HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (WSAV) — Dozens of people came to the Hilton Head Town Council meeting Tuesday to talk about what they call “a crisis on the island.”
That crisis is the need for workforce and affordable housing on the island.
Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity says it has been dealing with the issue for years and wants to keep helping people find a home that they can pay for.
“We have people who work in schools, health care and landscaping and home cleaning,” said Brenda Dooley, Executive Director of Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity. “People from all walks of life.”
People who met the requirements helped build their own houses, pay their mortgages, and are proud of the place they live.
“They know each other and can look out for each other and their kids can not have to worry about moving between schools because there is a permanency to this that makes that difference for them,” Dooley said.
Habitat Executive Director Brenda Dooley says these 32 families that have or are about to move into homes here in “The Glen” off Marshland road are paying $500 a month in 40-50 year long mortgages. That makes them the lucky ones.
WSAV: “Is this a crisis?”
Dooley: “I think we are there. The phone calls that we get, costs are just going up and rent is not affordable for families.”
“We recently held orientation meetings to add new families to our program,” Dooley explained. “We are looking to add three to four families and there were probably 200 people attending the meetings.”
“We hear from people all the time that ‘I already can’t afford my rent and now my rent is going up. How do I keep living there and if I don’t keep living there where do I go? There’s no place left to live.'”
Currently, Habitat has two houses under construction. It has volunteers and donors, but no other land left to build, on the island.
“We have purchased three lots in Ridgeland so that’s probably where we will be going next,” Dooley said. “We have some other land we own in Jasper County but right now the cost of doing infrastructure for those properties is prohibitive.”
Dooley told Town Council only 2% of her homeowners end up in foreclosure. They know how happy they are to be where they live now and know the alternatives.
Now, she hopes that the town is listening and watching as well. To help these folks who help the tourists and residents every day.
“I think with recent events there’s a better understanding of the seriousness of the situation,” Dooley explains. “So I think everyone’s attention is on it right now and hopefully that will translate into action.”
“If we can find ways to have them on the Island living and working that is the ideal situation.”
Dooley is working on one of those solutions now.
The agency is currently teaming up with developers on a proposal to the Town to take part in the new Northpoint public-private workforce housing project.
The plan would be to combine their home ownership model with a housing developer who wants to make the rest of the property affordable rentals.
In all the town will take seven proposals for the project. All of those plans have to be in by next month.
If you would like to find out more about Hilton Head Regional Habitat for Humanity and how to volunteer or donate to the non-profit, click or tap here.