The lack of affordable housing on Hilton Head Island has been a key reason why town businesses have a hard time attracting and keeping workers.
Now, town leaders want to create a full-time position to tackle the problem.
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The Town Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve creating a new staff position to direct and implement affordable housing strategies.
“The Public Planning Committee believes this is a leadership position, (and) that experience and knowledge of programs and best practices are important,” said council member David Ames during the meeting. “This person has to advance solutions.”
Council member John McCann questioned, though, whether it would be better to wait to fill the position until the town identifies what the next steps are in addressing the affordable housing issue.
Mayor David Bennett, referencing the communications position that Town Council earlier expressed interest in creating, said there is a “lag time” in creating and filling a new position.
Town manager Steve Riley said during the meeting there is no current staff job similar to the one to be created, noting the new hire would focus solely on the affordable housing issue.
“We need to pursue this in more detail,” Riley said Thursday. “We have no budget to hire anybody, and no agreement on duties or a job description. We need initial research on that.”
Riley said at some point council members probably would need to approve a budget amendment to hire a new employee. He said he doesn’t know what the salary would be, but that it likely would be more than $50,000 annually.
Workforce availability is one of Town Council’s key priorities, the two main components of which are housing and transportation, according to documents provided at Tuesday’s meeting.
Along with creating a new housing-affordability position, council members also approved eight other recommendations, including:
▪ Implementing a communication/education messaging plan for residents, businesses and other stakeholders;
▪ Establishing location criteria for affordable housing and proposing amendments to ordinances to stimulate affordable housing investment;
▪ Seeking to have the S.C. Legislature amend criteria for housing tax credits;
▪ Committing to create a plan for a 25-unit affordable housing development and groundbreaking within 18 months;
▪ Encouraging the private sector to identify steps it can take independently;
▪ Defining the scope of work for research, analysis and options for the town’s affordable housing strategy;
▪ Identifying working groups to oversee the planning process; and
▪ Establishing an appropriate budget to prepare a strategic plan.