House-starved Myrtle Beach’s ‘quality of life at risk’ without more stock. 5K+ needed.


Myrtle Beach is house-starved.

For all the million-dollar homes that sell in Grande Dunes and other gated communities, a January 2022 report shows Myrtle Beach has almost nowhere for average salaried people to live— with city leaders setting a goal to help aid in the construction of 5,670 new houses through 2033.

“This is a major issue, and because of our (the city’s) geography, because of our limited available developable land, it’s going to be a major struggle for us to really do this. But we’ve got to be all in,” assistant city manager Brian Tucker said at a Jan. 31 workshop.

Myrtle Beach leaders are exploring two avenues that could help them fill a housing shortage that threatens to hold back economic development: First, by pushing lawmakers to double the pool of low incoming affordable housing tax credits to $40 million and by partnering with Habitat for Humanity of Horry County over the next 18 months to put elements of the plan into action.

Jason Repak, president of the Horry-Georgetown Builders Association and real estate investor, said fluctuating supply costs combined with ongoing demand remains a barrier.

“It’s still a very expensive market to try and build new homes in,” Repak said. “It’s very hard to say whether or not you’ll see availability of workforce housing improving over the next few years, which doesn’t feel like short term but in housing. And that’s just because costs have inflated to such an extent that it’s very tough to even find land.”

Affordable rent for someone working in the hotel and food services field earning an average of $20,667 a year would be $571. If that same person wanted to buy a home, he or she could afford one priced at $144,669, according to Habitat for Humanity data.

As of December, the median price for a single-family home on the Grand Strand was $375,000, 16.5% year-over-year jump, according to Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors.

It’s even more expensive within Myrtle Beach, as average home prices were $435,000.

“The need for employees in other parts of Horry County means that Myrtle Beach employers will have a harder and harder time finding workers who have more employment opportunities outside of the City, closer to areas where housing is more attainable with shorter commutes,” the city’s 2022 strategic plan says.

“Without a determined effort to expand workforce housing options in the City of Myrtle Beach, both the economic sustainability and quality of life in the city is at risk.”

More than a third of the people who work and live in Myrtle Beach are in hospitality and food services sector, according to city statistics.

“Workforce housing, affordable housing is not a Myrtle Beach problem, it is a national problem,” Tucker said. “It is probably worse in Myrtle Beach than in a lot of municipalities around the state, but this is a common issue trying to be tackled.”

Jason Greene, Habitat’s executive director, said his agency is ready to take on the work should city leaders finalize its contract — a move council members said they intend to do.

“I feel like we’ve done a lot of talking about this, and it’s taken a long time and we’re trying to get it perfect until we do anything,” city councilman Gregg Smith said at a Jan. 31 workshop.“But if we wait until we get it perfect, we’re not going to do anything.”

The council next month is expected to ink a $302,061 deal with Habitat for Humanity for a range of services including:

  • Implementation of a local housing trust fund

  • Establishment of a density bonus for workforce housing

  • Creation of a community land trust and land bank

  • Development of a software program to track new construction

Mayor Brenda Bethune —who has made the wider availability of affordable housing a priority of her administration — said Myrtle Beach would do well joining Charleston, the Municipal Association of South Carolina and other cities in calling for a deeper pool of state housing tax credits for affordable housing projects.

“We are not asking the state to be the only investors, we ourselves are willing to invest, and I think that’s very important for them to always know,” she said at a Jan. 31 workshop.