Dare County to return $35M in housing funds to the state

By on May 7, 2024

Housing Task Force Chair Donna Creef says that even without the state funds, the group has work to do. (Kip Tabb/OBV)

The fate of the $35 million in state funds awarded for affordable housing in Dare County was resolved at the May 7 Dare Board of Commissioners meeting when County Manager Bobby Outten informed the board that the money had to be returned to the state in the near future.

At their May 7 meeting, the commissioners had been prepared to discuss a request from the Dare County Housing Task Force to delay returning the $35 million while the Task Force worked on a plan acceptable to Dare County and its towns.

However, as Outten noted, last week the state legislature passed a measure that removed a widely criticized provision in the funding that would have overridden Dare County towns’ ability to regulate housing developments funded with that money. But the legislation also required the return of the $35 million to state coffers.

District 3 State Senator Bobby Hanig was asked about the legislation mandating the return of the $35 million.

“I was trying to find a way to hold onto the money, but I was unable to. Once the board of commissioners voted to return it, that issue was determined by the Senate leadership,” he told the Voice.

The Dare Commissioners had approved returning the money to the state at their April 9 meeting, but the Housing Task Force had subsequently asked the county to try and hold on to those funds.

The timeline on the return of the funds is tight, Outten told the commissioners at their May 7 meeting.

“We have to return the money…Timing wise it, doesn’t have to be done tomorrow. It doesn’t have to be done the next day…but according to the President Pro Tem’s office, by the end of the fiscal year it does have to be done,” he said.

The loss of the funding will affect how the recently formed Housing Task Force will approach workforce housing issues in the county. Task Force Chair Donna Creef told the Voice that even without the $35 million, there was still work that could be done. She pointed to looking at how other communities had addressed critical housing shortages.

“We can do research…glean some information from that. Look at some information on land trusts and nonprofits…There’s long term work to do,” she said.

Task Force members, Creef added, understand what they are confronting is a complex problem and there may be limits to what can be accomplished.

“We’re all realistic in that we’re not going to solve it, but maybe we can make it a little bit better,” she said.


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  • Foda luvva Jesus

    Just ASK us voters in a referendum if we even want our time and money put into this sh…show

    Tuesday, May 7 @ 6:28 pm
  • Freenusa

    I applaud this decision, it will save our county alot of countless$$$$$$$$ and BS down the road. It was never meant to fund the “affordable housing” cause. Business owners need to step up.

    Tuesday, May 7 @ 9:01 pm
  • charlie

    Bobby Hanig tries to hold onto the money. Buthe couldn’t because the leadership in the senate determined the money had to be returned…
    1st Hanig doesn’t seem to have any pull .
    2nd. By the “leadership” saying they want the money back just becasue the onerous wording of the enacting legislationwas removed send up a red flag on the original intent of that legislation.. Who was under the table pulling the strings?…
    3rd. And Kidwell still is silent and this was his baby…

    Perhaps we should send some rotting fish to Raleigh to add to the odor coming from there..

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 4:54 am
  • Part Time OBX'r

    Agreed – if the VOTERS don’t want this nonsense, then it should be a closed issue. If the majority approve it, then alternate locations on the mainland (where it belongs) should be immediately reviewed.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 10:07 am
  • thomas

    First and foremost, we should discontinue the terms “affordable housing” or “workforce housing”. The terms already have stigma attached to them and just hearing the words conjures up negative emotions. Why don’t we call it “essential housing for long-term residents of Dare County”? The median cost of a home in Dare County is north of $600,000. There is no affordable housing in Dare County and it is unlikely that will ever change.

    Dare Education Foundation seems to have the legal authority to discriminate (for lack of a better word) meaning the Dare Education Foundation (Administrator) can say that you must be a police officer, a nurse, a doctor, a dentist, an educator, a commercial fisherman, a plumber, a mechanic, a chef, an EMT professional, a firefighter, etc. living and working in Dare County and have a need for housing of this type. Period, end of story! This type of entity must first be established to ensure the people we intend to get the housing in fact get it and we don’t need to face a law suit each time someone decides they are being discriminated against i.e. a retiree from another state.

    Create Short Term Rental (STR) Zones where short-term hotel type accommodations are allowed. For example, all beachfront or semi-beachfront homes in Dare County are allowed be in a short term rental (STR) zone. If you are not in an STR zone, then 30 days is the minimum you are allowed to rent your home in Dare County. This alone will open up a supply of long term rental homes. Expand the short term rental zone (STR) as agreements are worked out. Perhaps, properties on the entire Ocean Side of 158 are allowed to be in an STR since you could consider all properties on the Ocean Side of 158 and the Oceanside of Duck Road as resort communities and classify these areas as a short term rental zone (STR), but create a degree of regulation, oversight, and if possible try to limit new STR’s going forward.

    Grandfather and be reasonable. There are winners and losers. But, initially it is important to make the STR’s flexible. For example, an owner has a wonderful little short term rental (STR) in Kitty Hawk Woods that she has rented for years. She should not be penalized. Grandfather her into an STR without a major hassle or cost so she can continue to run her little short term rental that she has operated for years. She just simply needs to keep it registered and she is good to go. However, limit new STR’s going forward.

    Pushback and lawsuits. Of course non-resident homeowners some of whom have 5 or more homes spread out all over the world will be upset and of course threaten to sue over short term rental zones (STR’s). But, not all the ultra-rich are bad. In fact, some of them are wonderful and often have good intentions to make the world a better place and even though they may have million dollar homes spread out all over the world, they often want just as much to be a part of their communities as anyone else. Let’s reach out to them for a helping hand and mediate (as opposed to litigate) a way forward! Besides, all the Towns are in a lawsuit with the State of North Carolina over a shady law limiting the towns ability to govern their own Towns so what’s new?

    Don’t develop, buy Oceanfront, and Refurbish. Dare County should try to buy an older Ocean Front or Semi-Ocean Front Hotel and refurbish it into efficiency apartments under the authority of the Dare Education Fund. Partner with the NC State or East Carolina to chip in and preserve an apartment for their researchers to use with the ocean being right in their backyard. If the property is not Ocean Front or close to it, people are going to pitch a fit (and rightfully so) when a large development comes to their residential neighborhood and the project will face the so called “not in my backyard” ire. Trying to find a large chunk of land in Dare County to develop into what is being called “workforce housing” is utterly ridiculous. The people of Dare County will overwhelming oppose it, it will be fraught with litigation and shady deals, we will burn through millions of wasted dollars paying people to tell us what we already know and end up with a pile of legal bills and animosity in the community.

    In summary, create short term rental Zones (STR’s) and regulate them. Limit all other rentals to 30 days if they are not in an STR. This alone will open up lots of long-term rentals. Authorize the Dare County Education Foundation (or other legal entity) to buy an Ocean or Semi-Ocean front Hotel and develop it into nice little studio and 1-bedroom efficiency apartments for essential long-term housing for Dare County residents meeting the criteria. Just think of it and it is not far fetched. A Dare County police officer, a nurse, an educator, local commercial fisherman, researcher, etc. can get himself/herself a sweet little ocean front studio / 1-bedroom apartment on the Outer Banks for $1000 bucks a month while preserving our law and order, teaching our children, and keeping us healthy at the same time without a single “not in my backyard” complaint from a single Dare County resident being the Atlantic Ocean is in fact the backyard and could give a rat’s a** as to who lives next to it.

    This problem is not that hard to solve and we can do it!

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 10:17 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Thomas, I appreciate your thoughtful and detailed response. For future reference, however, it will have to be a bit shorter.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 11:07 am
  • thomas

    My apologies, Mark. I sent you a more concise and condensed version that reads much better. Best regards

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 1:41 pm
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    Absolutely, no need to apologize. And I did publish your original version.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 2:51 pm
  • Just Another Mike

    thomas – this same approach has been used across the country in countless resort communities. Show me one example where is has worked. Hawaii has went down the road of outright banning STRs in many areas. Show me one example of where someone can now afford to live there and wait tables for a living. While you’re digging up those examples, I am curious where the droves of homeless people are in the OBX that can no longer afford a place to live, or all the businesses closing their doors because there is zero staff. And certainly, since businesses have no staff the service must be terrible and I am sure people have stopped coming to OBX because of the lack of businesses or service. It appears that the science and data don’t actually support that 1) there is an housing issue to the degree that equals the hysteria created by the politicians and the entitled and 2) that all this heavy handed regulations that has been going on in communities for years have done anything to address property values. But, hey, lets change the terminology. That should help. OR, let the market do what it does. Economies naturally find equilibrium when they are allowed to do so.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 2:41 pm
  • ECON 101

    Just Another Mike is 100 percent right. For the private sector, a free market will find an equilibrium.

    Equilibrium means a compromise solution, and no one likes to compromise but that is how the real world works. Private employers will find solutions to their worker housing issues such as raising wages, commuting allowances, housing allowances, employer owned housing, etc. If not they may change their business model or go out of business.

    These solutions will raise their costs of doing business and their prices. Higher prices may reduce the level of tourism which may or may not reduce their gross revenues or profits.

    For the public sector, the towns, the county and the school district can set good examples for the private sector by implementing these same types of solutions. Our teacher housing program is a good example.

    We don’t have a choice. We need teachers, first responders, and other public employees. Hard choices will need to be made and compromise solutions found. Higher salaries and other housing related costs may force cuts in some other budget lines or an increase in our property taxes, which no one will like but trade-offs will need to be made.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 4:32 pm
  • thomas

    A commercial fisherman spoke at the Dare County meeting and said he had to go to Raleigh to find an apartment. He also said something to the effect the only rental he can find on the OBX is a shared 1 bedroom that cost him almost $1800 not including utilities. I can promise you short-term rentals are very rare in Honolulu. You can only find them in a place like Waikiki. Also, I can promise you there are ton’s of little apartments to rent for $1500 bucks with a long-term lease. You can get them all day long. But, I do agree in free market capitalism. On that note, maybe it is best to just let the free market sort things out as opposed to government intervention. Who knows.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 4:45 pm
  • disgruntled

    This is good news!

    If the lack of employee housing is something you think gov. should resolve have them require the chain stores, hotels or other investment groups who want to come here provide housing for half of their employees and subcontractors. Why should I pay for it?

    If visitation numbers continue to diminish or level out the problem may fix itself.

    Wednesday, May 8 @ 5:43 pm
  • Kitty Hawker

    So , how much money did Dare County ultimately pay to Coastal Affordable Housing ? Who gets the interest on the $35 million while it sits at Towne Bank ? It’s a lot of money . What’s Representative Kidwell ‘s explanation for override legislation , accounting of funds, and the details on return of money ? Why did he single out Dare County ? Where’s the accountability snd transparency from our County commissioners? Lots of questions and few answers.

    Friday, May 10 @ 8:02 am