Dare Housing Task Force Chair Donna Creef is “optimistic” about the prospect for more workforce housing

By on June 7, 2024

Housing Task Force Chair Donna Creef

Its creation having been announced late last year, the Dare County Housing Task Force convened its first meeting on Jan. 18, 2024. The idea was to generate more consensus and momentum for a county workforce housing initiative that had floundered—with proposed projects in Manteo, Nags Head and Kill Devil Hills derailed by local opposition.

At that first meeting, Dare County Manager Bobby Outten, citing the long history of frustration when it came to building more of this housing in the county, told the Task Force, “So now, for the one, two, three, four, five, six seventh try at this, we’re trying to figure out how do we get something moving.”

In recent months, there have been major changes in the county’s plan. On April 9, the Dare Commissioners announced they were ending their housing partnership with Coastal Affordable Housing, LLC, a move that came after the other private partner, the Woda Cooper Company, withdrew from the county last year after seeing proposals fail in Nags Head and Manteo.

At the same April 9 meeting, the commissioners announced their intention to return the $35 million the state had awarded Dare County for affordable housing projects—money that was earmarked for the Coastal Affordable Housing efforts. While the Housing Task Force had hoped the county would delay the return of those funds, that became a moot point when state legislation mandated the return of the $35 million to state coffers.

At that April 9 Commissioners meeting, there was almost a sense of resignation among board members when it came to the housing initiative.

“I’m done with that status quo,” said Ervin Batman. Wally Overman added that housing efforts had “been turned down, turned away, not accepted because the leadership in these towns have listened to their citizens.”

With this as a backdrop, the Voice emailed questions to Donna Creef, the former Dare County Planning Director who chairs the Housing Task Force, asking about the road ahead in their goal to generate more workforce housing. The Task Force’s next meeting is scheduled for 9 a.m. on June 25 in Room 168 of the Dare County Administrative Building. It is open to the public.

Creef’s answers to the Voice questions are published here in their entirety.

Q: Do you feel that the mission of the Housing Task Force has changed in light of the $35 million being returned to the state, and if so, how?

A: The Task Force adopted a mission statement at our March 19 meeting that reads: To collaboratively develop short-term and long-term solutions to address housing issues affecting Dare County residents, business owners and building community support through appropriate outreach activities, and implementing regulatory reforms and options that can be tailored to fit each community’s unique characteristics and constituency.

This mission statement was adopted before the Dare County Board of Commissioners voted to return the $35 million to the state and remains valid as our mission statement.

Q: What areas/ideas/research will the Task Force now be focusing on in an effort to generate more workforce/affordable housing?

A: The task force has appointed some subcommittees—a plan/site subcommittee that is researching land in the county that may have development potential for housing within the current zoning limitations or redevelopment potential within the current zoning regulations.

Another subcommittee is researching non-profit organizations (both public and private), and a third subcommittee has been formed on community engagement and outreach. There may be a need for additional subcommittees as we progress and there may be some overlap in research among the three existing subcommittees.

We plan to have some discussions with local financial institutions. Financial institutions in other communities are active participants in private housing foundations and frequently have corporate loan programs for housing initiatives. We are also researching options, such as deed restrictions for year-round residency, that have been successful in other parts of North Carolina and the United States and if such efforts could be an option for Dare County communities.

Housing is a large part of the economy of Dare County and the development of housing and associated programs for homeownership is important for the continued sustainability of the Dare County economy and future generations of our residents.


Q: There was talk at one Task Force meeting where the idea was raised of opening up the Task Force to more members of the community at large. Is that still a possibility or priority?

A:  I have appointed another resident of Hatteras Island, Anthony Fletcher, to the Task Force and Noah Gillam, the Dare County Planning Director is now attending the meetings. That brings the total number to 28 members. The subcommittees may invite other community representatives to participate in their meetings when additional expertise is needed.

The public is welcome to attend the Task Force meetings and is allowed an opportunity to give public comment at the end of each meeting. And the community engagement subcommittee is planning to prepare an outreach/community engagement plan for consideration by the Task Force later this summer.

Q: Given the difficulties of generating new workforce housing in the past few years, how optimistic are you that real strides can be made in this area and a significant number of new units can be built in the foreseeable future?

A: I am optimistic. The Task Force members are engaged. Housing is a complicated issue that is affecting not just Dare County but the entire state and the nation. Other communities that have been successful in developing nonprofits and private housing foundations have done so after researching alternatives and building community support. These are the cornerstones of success, and the Task Force needs to be deliberate and intentional in our efforts.

Successful housing programs involve more than just construction of new units, construction is just one component. The Task Force will work diligently to identify ways and alternatives to empower local governments, residents, and the business community to address this important matter. The Task Force does not have a dedicated revenue source to build any project but will work to identify potential areas for consideration for construction of structures that are reflective of existing community patterns of development.


Q:  Is the job of generating more workforce housing primarily an issue to be handled by the private sector. Or is there a significant role for government, at both the county and local level, going forward?

A: When you look at other communities in North Carolina and elsewhere in the USA that have housing programs, there are public agencies and private foundations that work in partnership to address housing for a holistic approach. Some variation of public/private commitment with community and business support will be needed to address the housing issue for future generations.



Barnhill Building Group has been selected as the Construction Manager @ Risk by the College of the Albemarle and is seeking to pre-qualify construction trade contractors to submit bids for the furnishing labor, materials, equipment, and tools for the new College of The Albemarle – Allied Health Sciences Simulation Lab (COA Health Sciences) located in Elizabeth City, NC. Please note: Only subcontractors who have been prequalified by Barnhill will be able to submit a Bid.

The project consists of the new construction of a 38,000-sf, 2-story expansion to the existing Owens Health Sciences Center and will house classrooms, labs, and a simulation lab. The site is just over just over 4.5 acres and is located on an active campus. This new construction will be a steel structure with a brick and metal panel veneer, curtainwall, and storefront glazing with a PVC roof membrane.

Principal trade and specialty contractors are solicited for the following Bid Packages:

BP0100: General Trades

BP0105: Final Cleaning

BP0390: Turnkey Concrete

BP0400: Turnkey Masonry

BP0500: Structural Steel & Misc. Steel

BP0740: Roofing

BP0750: Metal Panels

BP0790: Caulking / Caulking

BP0800: Turnkey Doors/Frames/Hardware

BP0840: Glass & Glazing

BP0925: Drywall

BP0960: Resilient Flooring

BP0980: Acoustical Ceilings

BP0990: Painting & Wallcovering

BP1005: Toilet Specialties / Accessories / Division 10

BP1010: Signage

BP1098: Demountable Partitions

BP1230: Finish Carpentry and Casework

BP1250: Window Treatment

BP1400: Elevators

BP2100: Fire Protection

BP2200: Plumbing

BP2300: HVAC

BP2600: Turnkey Electrical

BP3100: Turnkey Sitework

BP3290: Landscaping

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HUB/MWBE OUTREACH MEETING: Barnhill Building Group will be conducting a HUB/MWBE Informational Session. You are encouraged to attend the following session to learn more about project participation opportunities available to you. These seminars will help to: Learn about project and scope; Inform and train Minority/HUB contractors in preparation for bidding this project; Assist in registration on the State of North Carolina Vendor link; Stimulate opportunities for Networking with other firms. Location and time TBD. Please visit our planroom at https://app.buildingconnected.com/public/54da832ce3edb5050017438b for more information.

Interested contractors should submit their completed prequalification submittals, by July 22, 2024, to Meredith Terrell at mterrell@barnhillcontracting.com or hardcopies can be mailed to Barnhill Contracting Company PO Box 31765 Raleigh, NC 27622 (4325 Pleasant Valley Road, NC 27612).



  • Phoebe

    I have yet to understand why it’s the tax paying citizens of Dare County or the state of NC to fund housing for the private business owners. Many of whom are our local politicians. This ONLY became an issue AFTER every single lot was sold and businesses decided to open here. Free enterprise! Look at what’s happening in Corolla. Saga wants to build a 172 room hotel that will NEVER find enough employees to staff it. Study after study & another task force will NEVER solve this problem. I remember the good old days when there were less businesses to staff, there was an actual off season and everyone was happy!!!

    Friday, Jun 7 @ 12:48 pm
  • james

    It is completely irresponsible for both SAGA and Currituck County to continue building in Corolla. A moratorium should be put in place that prohibits building in Corolla until the bridge is built. Currituck County floods our roads with traffic and in the case of Southern Shores we must pay out of our own pockets to maintain our roads not the State as our roads are not maintained by the State but specifically by the citizens of SS. We should put up a gate on North Dogwood Trial and charge tourists $25 bucks for the shortcuts they take through our roads to Corolla. In regards, to workforce housing, buy an existing Hotel and renovate it so we can drop our lawsuit against the State. The idea of buying a large track of land and building a government housing project on the Outer Banks is ludicrous and the citizens will never stand for it.

    Saturday, Jun 8 @ 10:59 am
  • Mark Jurkowitz | Outer Banks Voice

    James, as you’ll see by the story we just posted, the six Dare County towns have dropped their lawsuit against the state.

    Saturday, Jun 8 @ 11:52 am
  • Carter McKay

    This dog and pony show these politicians parade out every few years is nothing more than a con job to entice votes.

    Most people that live here find it increasingly more difficult to make the financial math work, so as long as we continue to be a vacation playground that caters to the well-to-do rather than those that live pay check to pay check this problem will never be resolved.

    Oh the idea behind is noble, but as long as developers keep building these multi-million dollar investment properties and scoop up every available inch of undeveloped land for these projects the hope of ever having affordable housing in Dare County is nothing more than a fantasy, and that’s sad for all of those that simply cannot afford to live here.

    Never forget the insatiable greed of the three primary villians of the story, the politicians, the developers and the realtors. They’re all culpable in your inability to find an affordable home.

    Saturday, Jun 8 @ 12:50 pm
  • james

    Mark, I stand corrected and thank you so much for setting the record straight. Best regards.

    Saturday, Jun 8 @ 1:04 pm
  • surf123

    The housing will never be built. Politicians keep doing the same song and dance routine over it. The latest is the Housing Task Force, which government code for pretending to do something. The fact that a former county employee in charge all but guarantees nothing measurable will get. No matter though as whenever land is identified the litigation will start. Very few people want multi-family housing (affordable or market price) near them and certainly should not be anywhere near the beach with Currituck or the Dare mainland being the only viable options.

    Saturday, Jun 8 @ 1:07 pm
  • Currituck

    How much time and money has been wasted over the last 30+ years, with nothing to show for it.

    Currituck, formerly of Dare

    Sunday, Jun 9 @ 9:32 am
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