Hilton Head Island takes first steps toward affordable housing plan

    Lisa Sturtevant & Associates plans to share their strategic affordable housing plan with the public in April 2019 (Credit: Briana Trusty).

    Workers on Hilton Head Island have been struggling to find affordable housing on the island for some time. Now, the town is taking the first steps toward developing a strategic affordable housing plan.

    “Communication, outreach, public engagement and really making sure that everyone is informed about the process all along the way is key," said Lisa Sturtevant, the lead housing consultant in charge of the housing plan.

    A Virginia-based housing consulting firm, Lisa Sturtevant & Associates, will be putting together a plan to best introduce affordable housing to Hilton Head.

    “You have folks who are very pro development, you have folks who are very anti development and I think that the first thing that we do is listen," said Sturtevant.

    The firm did a lot of listening Thursday as residents shared their thoughts on the issue.

    “I’m so glad we had the chance to start it today, to meet folks here, to talk to the people for whom this is an issue right now," she said.

    Sturtevant stressed the importance of this being a collaborative community effort.

    “We look forward to meeting with folks who may be some of the ones for who housing is the most urgent issue," she said.

    One of the groups most affected by the lack of affordable housing on Hilton Head are workers. They come in everyday, but can't afford to stay. It's something employees say is leading to a shrinking employee roster.

    “I think if there was more affordable housing the employment situation wouldn’t be as bad as it is," said Dirk, a long-time Hilton Head worker.

    Dirk has worked on the island for 25 years and has seen the first hand effects of the lack of affordable housing on businesses and people.

    “A lot of businesses are having trouble staffing their businesses whether it’s restaurants, retail," he said. "It’s causing a strain for people financially. To be able to live and work on Hilton Head.”

    That's why the firm plans to reach out to workers first as they begin developing their plan.

    “I think bringing those folks to the conversation is going to be critical here at the beginning.”

    It's a beginning that workers hope will lead to the the end of the issue.

    The firm plans to share their strategic affordable housing plan with the public in April 2019.

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