“It hurts my stomach”: OBX residents find it difficult to find accommodation

MANTEO, NC (WAVY) – By now you’ve seen the headlines and heard the stories about the 2021 housing market.

The prices are outrageous and rentals are impossible to find.

This is true across the country, but in the Outer Banks, residents and county leaders say the situation has reached a crisis point.

The Outer Banks Hospital asked for leads on Facebook in April, writing that its staff, from technicians to nurses and even doctors, had lost their long-term rentals and couldn’t find anywhere to stay.

In July, when the Dare County Board of Commissioners held a special meeting to deal with the housing shortage, President Bob Woodard said the market was calling for 1,200 units for his essential workers.

“We need to stop talking about it,” Woodard told his fellow Commissioners. “And we have to start doing something.”

Pamela Anderson rents three units in the county. She attended the meeting to attest to the overwhelming need for affordable housing and to present a site on which she believes the county could build units.

“We had an opening at one of our rental apartments, and we had over 100 inquiries within hours,” Anderson said. “It’s out of control.”

Anderson says she got an overwhelming response because she rents her units for $ 800 a month, including water and electricity.

Other owners and owners seem to be motivated to make a bigger profit, either by converting short-term rentals through Airbnb and Vrbo, or by selling them when prices are high.

“There are people over there who are being kicked out of their residence so that the blessed God [landlord] can rent it for Airbnb and charge triple, quadruple the amount blessed by God for a week, ”Woodard said. “It makes you absolutely sick to your stomach.”

Lifelong Dare County resident Margaret Guardado said her landlord told her earlier this year that she would have to move because he wanted to list the property on Airbnb.

As her search dragged on for months, she sent her son to live with his father and moved into a friend’s campervan.

“This is my house,” she said. “It breaks my heart to see people for over 30 years having to move to Edenton or Englehart because they can’t find anywhere to go.”

Guardado eventually found accommodation across the county line at Powell’s Point.

Chris Furey, a resident of Nags Head, also forced to leave Dare County due to a lack of housing options, had to take his family much further, to West Virginia.

“It’s a bigger problem than I am,” he said. “I’m happy to have the opportunity to talk about it, but it’s going to take a long time to figure out, and it has to happen soon, or you won’t have a local community.”

Like Guardado and Anderson, Furey wants to see county-level action, but he doesn’t like his current approach.

“I don’t believe the answer is to push everyone into affordable housing,” he said. “It would be unfair to the people who built the community, from fishermen to contractors and housekeepers.”

Commissioners are considering proposals in Manteo: building mixed-income housing on county-owned land off Bowsertown Road and converting the Elizabethan Inn into rental housing.

Together, the sites would create around 200 units, just a fraction of what is needed.

The proposals are just that too – proposals – and should probably take more than a year or more to become reality.

The county currently does not limit short-term rentals anywhere in the county, according to its planning director.

When asked in a follow-up phone call with 10 On Your Side if he regrets not implementing certain regulations and restrictions on apps like Airbnb, Woodard said commissioners may need to explore this. option.

“It was new to us so it was difficult to know who was doing what,” he said. “But we probably have to regroup and rewrite it, because we hear horror stories that I don’t like.”

Comments are closed.