In survey, 89% say Dare lacks affordable housing

By on September 14, 2022

Drug and alcohol concerns also prominent in responses

The results of a survey of county residents in the newly released Dare County 2021-2022 Community Health Needs Assessment reveal overwhelming concerns about affordable housing in the county and identify drug and alcohol misuse as a major issue.

Overall, 88.6% of the respondents disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that there is affordable housing that meets the needs in Dare County. At the same time, 63.2% of those surveyed said drugs and alcohol is a top issue in terms of the highest impact on the quality of life here.

The survey, which was available from April 1-June 30, 2021, generated 1,034 Dare County responses, and in some cases, the survey sample did not reflect the overall makeup of the county’s population. Seven-in-ten (71%) of the respondents were women, who represent half of the general population. The respondents skewed a bit older, with 26.2% between the ages of 55-64 compared with 17.5% in the actual population. And 62.7% of those who completed the survey reported having at least a bachelor’s degree, a number that falls to 34.7% in the general population.

Some of these discrepancies between the survey sample and the general population are likely reflected in the survey results, which could well be somewhat different if a representative sample of the Dare population was surveyed.

Even so, several of the findings send a clear and unmistakable message.


There are several responses that highlight concerns about the availability of reasonably priced housing in the county, aside from the 88.6% who disagreed or strongly disagreed with the statement that the current supply meets the needs of the county.

When asked to identify issues with the highest impact on the quality of life in the county, 87% of the those surveyed cited the lack affordable housing. In addition, 70% said that more affordable and better housing is a service in need of improvement.

Several questions dealt with employment and pay in the county. Almost one-third of the respondents (31.7%) cited higher paying employment as something in need of improvement. The question of whether there is plenty of economic opportunity in Dare County produced a mixed verdict — 37.4% disagreed or strongly disagreed, while 35.6% agreed or strongly agreed.

Asked about top issues with a high impact on the quality of life, 30.1% identified low income and poverty, putting that behind only affordable housing, drugs and alcohol and transportation.

Health and COVID

A number of health-related issues were examined in the survey. Substance misuse concerns surfaced, not only when nearly two-thirds of respondents (63.2%) said drugs and alcohol is a high impact issue, but when 42% said substance misuse prevention was something Dare County residents needed more information about. The only other health behavior that more residents said they needed more information on was mental/behavioral health, at 45.7%.

In response to a question measuring the overall quality of healthcare in the county, 52.6% agreed or strongly agreed that the county has good healthcare, compared with 24.2% who disagreed or strongly disagreed.

Asked about access to healthcare, a subject that has generated considerable attention in recent months after the survey was completed, 69.2% said it is not an issue for them, with 27% reporting an issue accessing healthcare. Of those that did see it as an issue, more than half (54.2%) said the issue involved getting access to a primary care doctor.

Several questions also dealt with the COVID pandemic. Asked how COVID most severely impacted them, the top two answers were stress and anxiety (63.1%) and social isolation (51.6%).  On the vaccination front, 86.6% of the respondents reported having received at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, with 70.9% saying they don’t have any concerns about the vaccine.

Of those who said they didn’t get the vaccine, a solid majority, 60.9%, said it was a matter of personal preference.


Watch Dr. Davies’ presentation of the assessment during the Town of Manteo’s Healthcare Task Force meeting.

View the slides from the presentation.

Access the full 280-page assessment report



  • BeachBall

    Real estate in Dare County is expensive. Why not find a developer that would build affordable housing in adjacent counties,?

    Wednesday, Sep 14 @ 6:05 pm
  • Human Utensil for the Rich

    Who is surprised by this?
    The county planners chopped Dare Co. into little rectangles and sold most of it to whoever worshipped the Golden coins.
    The non-resident property owners of Rental Machines view this place as nothing more than a investment.
    The year round labor force is vastly out numbered.
    There is nothing one can do about it but be sad.

    And this is a vacation destination. Humans come here to relax, and most cannot do it without drugs and alcohol.
    This flows down into our residents and their children with the power of the Gulf Stream.
    May God forgive us all…………………

    Wednesday, Sep 14 @ 8:31 pm
  • Steven

    Lack of housing is due to greed and overpopulation of tourists, plain and simple.
    They were OBnoXious, now they’re downright awful..

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 5:37 am
  • Jeff Walker

    Really curious about the folks who think affordable housing isn’t a problem. Their lives must be pretty wild to be that out of touch with reality.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 7:24 am
  • tim

    Surveys don’t fix problems, they might help identify them, but it won’t fix them. So what will fix it or how do you make affordable housing happen and not just point out that it is out there? Property values here went through the roof since May 2020. It seems to have peaked in March of 2022 and since then prices have slowly dropped a little. This will help with more affordable housing but it could take years. How can the towns or county force an owner to sell at a loss to accomplish affordable housing prices? They can’t and never could do that, but that is what it will take – people losing money on their investments and property values dropping again.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 8:36 am
  • Burly Allin

    I am 41 male & work fulltime hanging seamless gutters. My wife & I both working more than full-time CANNOT afford our own place anywhere in the obx. The lack off affordable housing is the #1 problem in Dare County.
    I’ve associates at work who literally live in their trucks.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 9:02 am
  • mom

    Dare County lacks short term housing for seasonal employees. The pandemic land grab and yearly rentals going to airBnB has added to the shortage issues. People moving to the county for retirement or working from home have put a strain on our goods and services but are not contributing to either. So, part of the question is, who is eligible for affordable housing if made available? There seems to be no real answer. It’s not just here, it’s all over the US.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 10:48 am
  • Dethrol

    Careful about putting too much stock in anything you find in this survey without viewing the information through a lens of skepticism. There are about 37,000 people in Dare County. This survey only includes responses from 1034 people (less than 3% of the population). It oversampled women by a statistically significant amount, oversampled older residents, and included responses that over sampled college-educated residents by double the actual percentage in the county. To be fair, Dare County HHS prefaced their analysis by pointing out these flaws. However, surveys like this, and its results packaged in more than 280 pages of a report, work their way into policy that may, or may very well not, reflect the opinions of the actual population. Caveat lector….

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 11:25 am
  • Billnc

    Why not build a community out in dare mainland and have bus service? I’m sure Dare could do a one time subsidy with a developer, and have them build homes/condos etc. but not be in the housing/apartment management business, long term after that, like the other solutions entail. Run out of homes and there’s still demand? Do a phase 2 etc..

    Obviously more details would need to be hammered out, but I think that makes more sense than the county managing apartments long term, and trying to find land etc.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 12:53 pm
  • Doug S

    Regulate Short term rental properties and the problem will go away. Perhaps west of the bypass where historically locals have lived. Too many Air BNBs taking all the affordable housing out of the market and changing the residential neighborhoods into party zone. Many other areas across the nation are doing it.

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 1:07 pm
  • Reality Check

    Bet they paid big money for this survey, for information that any Tom, Dick or Harry could have told them for free. Government is so efficient!

    Thursday, Sep 15 @ 2:22 pm
  • Liz

    Gosh, I just love these Captain Obvious surveys. So, thank you, Captain Obvious!

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 12:23 am
  • Steven

    Billnc, thats a great idea! Areas on mainlands to house tourists and bus them to beach.

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 5:06 am
  • Currituck

    Assets are best allocated where they bring the highest value. Dollars, Labor, housing and land being the most valued assets. Neighbors, politicians and governments want the ability to decide how these assets are distributed. The fail is they make decisions based on their wants and not what is in the best interest of the asset holder.

    I typed this slowly because many of you cannot read fast.

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 5:51 am
  • Questions

    Isn’t “affordable housing” another word for subsidized housing (i.e., projects) paid for by honest taxpayers?

    Doesn’t subsidized housing generally increase crime and violence around the area?

    Who does affordable housing truly benefit? Do we really want this?

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 10:02 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Questions, in this context, I believe the word “affordable” does not mean government-financed housing for low-income people. It means housing that people can afford. The word “affordable” housing often carries a stigma, which is why the Dare County Board of Commissioners has used words like “workforce” housing or “essential” housing, to describe the goal of creating housing for folks who are not rich, but are not in need of government housing.

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 12:00 pm
  • Dethrol

    No matter what label you put on it, Dare County government, including the governments of all the towns and villages on the Outer Banks have absolutely zero business being involved with funding, administering, managing, or developing any “low income” or “affordable” housing project (s) in the county. This includes using “influence” to convince or strong-arm developers and/or employers to build them (with or without government subsidies, tax breaks, or incentives funded by taxpayers). Government involvement in housing development and management ALWAYS ends badly. You won’t find any part of any charter of any of our government bodies that includes authority to develop and administer “affordable” housing. And before anyone promulgates a list of things the governments here do that aren’t enumerated in charters and by-laws, keep in mind that you are reinforcing my point. The overwhelming majority of articles published in the Voice with a governmental nexus always include AT LEAST a 50-50 split reflecting dissatisfaction with the government’s response or activities. Most of these, in fact, are covered under a charter or were voted on by our elected representatives and codified into some ordinance or law. Our governments have their plates completely full without adding landlord to the menu.

    Friday, Sep 16 @ 2:34 pm
  • Steven

    Dethrol, you make excellent points and give needed backgrounds. However, I think you’re totally missing something here. This discussion has nothing to do with housing assistance from Any town or government agency. Zero assistance. What’s needed is what we had for the last century, affordable housing, individually responsible.

    Sunday, Sep 18 @ 6:55 am
  • Jay

    Seems like all surveys use percentages to delivery the survey results. I’d like to see dollars included in the results:

    1. In dollars how much minimum annual salary does it take to rent in Dare Co? What is the starting monthly rent landlords are charging?

    2. In dollars how much minimum annual salary does it take to buy a starter home in Dare Co?

    Feels like the shortage of affordable housing began when Airbnb’s took hold pushing renters onto the streets. Dare Co could have regulated (stopped) that through zoning. I imagine the lust for tax dollars was why that didn’t happen. As a homeowner here Dare County & CAMA controls about everything I can do with my property why not Airbnb’s?

    Sunday, Sep 18 @ 2:54 pm