Workers can’t afford to live on the Outer Banks. Dare County wants to help.

A developer has put in six houses on a lot in Rodanthe that will be long-term rentals.

Outer Banks business owners are having trouble finding workers who can afford to live there.

To help find solutions for the persistent problem, Dare County sent an email survey to employers this week.

Among the questions: how far do their workers have to commute and how is the lack of housing impacting hiring.

Kim Parker, part owner of Henry’s Restaurant in Kitty Hawk, received her survey Monday. She has employees traveling from Elizabeth City, Moyock and Camden. Those trying to live in Dare County are sharing rooms and working two jobs to pay the rent, she said.

“I’m still trying to find help as we speak,” Parker said. “They can’t afford living here.”

The survey is part of a $85,300 contract between Dare County and the Development Finance Initiative, a program at the University of North Carolina School of Government. The program uses experts in finance and development to match the right property and builder with federal incentives.

The county needs approximately 1,200 more units with rents between $600 and $700, according to a study by DFI. In the past two years, the county streamlined its development ordinance in the hopes of attracting more low-cost housing. The effort saw minimal results, officials said.

It could take up to 10 years for any new low-cost housing development to open, officials said.

Affordable housing in tourist destinations is a widespread problem, said Dare County spokesperson Dorothy Hester.

“This housing crunch needs to be tackled,” she said. “The towns need to look at this as well. It’s going to take a partnership.”

Outer Banks employers add between 4,700 to 6,300 jobs each summer when millions vacation in the Outer Banks. Some seasonal workers commute or live with relatives, but most need housing.

The problem is that such seasonal jobs only pay enough for workers to pay between $600 and $700 a month in rent, and there are only about 900 places that are that inexpensive, the study said.

About 60% of the 2,300 low-income residents that rent a home in Dare County must spend more than 30% of their income on housing.

Over the next several months, DFI will identify at least two sites in Dare County that are suitable for development and meet the requirements of the federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, according to a report from the UNC group.

The program is the largest funding source for the development of private affordable housing in the United States, the study said.

Jeff Hampton, 252-491-5272,

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