The Transylvania Times -

Survey: Homes Either Too Dear Or Poor Quality

 

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A serious shortage of affordable homes in Transylvania County, attributed to high prices and low overall quality, highlighted the feedback from a recent housing survey distributed by the Workforce Housing Coalition.

Nearly 400 residents who work in the county answered the survey.

"The purpose of the survey was to assess the needs for safe, adequate housing and to identify employees in the county who cannot afford to purchase a home or have had difficulty finding suitable rental properties," according to Vickie Van Antwerp, the Housing Coalition director, in a press release Friday.

"About 93 percent of those responding both live and work in the county. The major employers were county departments, the City of Brevard, the school system, Brevard College and Transylvania Community Hospital.

"We believe that the survey sample is representative and has succeeded in identifying the nature of the local workforce housing problems."

Some of the statistics resulting from the survey show:

• 77 percent of the 400 respondents said they believe that there is a shortage of affordable homes for sale, and 66 percent indicated that housing prices are too high and that properties available at an affordable price are of poor quality.

• 23 percent are currently renting while another 14 percent are living with family, live on family land or live in manufactured housing.

• Taken together, these groups of survey respondents total about 149 people, and 87 percent of them said they would own a house if they could afford it.

• 48 percent of the respondents are teachers and service workers who have an average annual income between $30,000 and $48,000.

According to the Coalition's chart of "affordability factors," this income group could qualify to buy homes priced between $110,000 and $182,000.

However, the average price of homes sold in the county in 2007 was $344,756, and the current market lists only about 50 houses for sale in the county that are priced under $200,000.

• 43 percent said they did not have the necessary down payment to obtain a mortgage.

Others cited credit problems that restrict them from qualifying.

"The lack of a down payment and credit problems can be addressed through credit counseling and financial programs," Van Antwerp said.

"But while families are trying to save a down payment and clean up their credit, they still need decent rental homes, which are scarce in the county."

Brevard Councilman Rodney Locks, who is also a member of the Coalition, said the survey shows there is much work to be done.

"The need for housing that will invite and keep a workforce in Transylvania County is great," he said.

"People may discuss the issue until they are blue in the face, but the bottom line remains the same.

"Unless we provide affordable housing for those who work in this county and cities, the middle class will leave and there will be no one to replace them.

The school system has recognized the problem and is beginning to take steps to address it."

The Coalition began as result of the housing summit that was held last April. The United Way was one of the sponsors, and Morris Denton got five committees organized.

It was eventually realized that at least one staff person to coordinate all of the activities was needed, and United Way put on a fund raiser to pay someone a salary.

The funds go toward United Way's Community Impact fund, which is used to pay Van Antwerp's salary and another position for the Financial Stability program, which Don Rogers heads. The position began in December and it is part time.

The Coalition's next step will be to analyze each segment of the survey, complete a detailed needs assessment, and prepare a strategic plan for addressing the issues.

Five committees are working on various aspects of the issue and will be making some announcements about their work in the future.

"We would like to thank all those who participated in the survey," Van Antwerp said.

"It is encouraging to see so many people concerned about the housing crisis."

For more information about the Coalition, call 883-8822. or find its link at http://www.unitedwaytransylvaniacounty.org.

 
 

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