‘It’s very difficult for folks:’ Myrtle Beach leaders discuss workforce housing for city employees

Updated: May. 19, 2021 at 6:48 PM EDT
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MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WMBF) - Myrtle Beach city leaders held the first of community meetings for their workforce housing initiative.

Wednesday’s meeting involved general managers and board presidents of gated communities.

A second meeting was held that afternoon with community service employers, representatives from Myrtle Beach area schools and hospitals.

“It’s very difficult for folks to be able to live within the city limits of Myrtle Beach because lots of times they’re just priced out,” Roger Gray, HR Director of Horry County Schools, said.

When asked what workforce housing meant to them, department heads said affordability, diversified housing and a place to call home for their employees.

“Especially if they’re trying to get close to where they’re working, that’s what they’re looking for and they’re looking for something that’s going to meet all of their needs,” Myrtle Beach Police Chief Amy Prock said.

When it comes to challenges, some listed low wages, low housing inventory, and upfront fees.

“We don’t have a diversified economy where people make a good wage and are able to afford that housing,” Myrtle Beach Fire Chief Tom Gwyer said.

Chad Charles, who heads the city’s workforce housing initiative, said average salaries in Myrtle Beach range from $25,000 to $73,000 depending on single or family households.

Out of 41,000 full-time employees in Myrtle Beach, only 6,000 employees work and live within the city limits.

“If we don’t have adequate housing for the workforce, we get an unbalanced economy and when that unbalanced economy begins to take place, then the quality of life declines rapidly,” Charles said.

Along with improving quality of life, leaders agree providing affordable workforce housing could help attract employees and entice them to stay.

“I was principal of Myrtle Beach Middle School for 10 years and [the] majority of my teachers didn’t live in Myrtle Beach,” Gray said. “I wanted to attract people to Myrtle Beach, but it’s hard for me to keep them in Myrtle Beach Middle when they can go teach at Forest Brook or Ocean Bay or St. James.”

There will be two more meetings scheduled for May 26, at the General Robert H. Reed Recreation Center on 800 Gabreski Lane at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.

The last two meetings will be on June 9, also at the General Robert H. Reed Recreation Center.

The first is at 10 a.m. for developers and realtors, while the other is at 2 p.m. for resort and restaurant employers.

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