Hilton Head is fighting to keep workers on the island

'It's Greek To Me' is located off of Lagoon Rd on Hilton Head Island. (Caitlyn Penter WTGS)

Hilton Head Island continues to struggle with attracting workers to the island.

"There are businesses who are having to cut back their hours of operation. Some have actually closed. So it is a challenging situation that needs to be addressed," said David Ames, Hilton Head town councilman for Ward 3.

For a lot of people, they can't afford to work and live on the island.

"We need affordable housing around here, there is none," said Aaryn Scribner, an employee at 'It's Greek To Me.'

Scribner has worked at 'It's Greek To Me' for two years, and is currently looking for a new place to live.

"Well, I've been looking for two months and with everything that's a decent price, the second it's on the market, it's gone," said Scribner.

She is a single mother and struggles to find affordable housing, both on the island and off it. She said even surrounding areas like Bluffton are becoming too expensive.

Her employers are trying to help her and other island workers in the same situation.

"Apartments on the top, gonna be probably two bedroom, small two bedroom, but very comfortable with two bathrooms, two showers," said Bill Maniotis, owner of 'It's Greek To Me.'

Barbara and Bill Maniotis want to add workforce housing on their property. The housing would be next door to their restaurant on the second floor of the adjacent building.

According to the couple, getting approval should not be an issue because their property is zoned for multi-use which would allow the changes.

Bill Maniotis said they will charge affordable rent, much lower than the current going-rate in Hilton Head.

According to Rent Jungle, as of June 2018 the average rent for an apartment in Hilton Head Island, S.C. is $1,329 a month.

The couple said this issue has been going on for a long time.

"The town's been talking about it for years, but nobody's done anything," said Barbara Maniotis.

The couple has lost employees due to the lack of housing. They have even hired some workers who rescinded their offers after not being able to find housing.

The Maniotis' await approval from the Forest Beach Association and the town before they can move forward with their plans.

Ames said Hilton Head Town Council is currently developing plans for workforce housing on the island.

"We are always talking to developers who have ideas and how an affordable housing project could be built," said Ames.

According to Ames, one of the biggest obstacles has been finding private developers that share the town's vision.

The workforce housing must be designed for island workers, not for tourists.

Ames said there should be a consultant's report on the project released at the beginning of next year.

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