Boone, Watauga County leaders seek affordable housing solutions

Boone, Watauga County leaders seek affordable housing solutions

4:09pm Jun 02, 2022
Boone, North Carolina, is home to Appalachian State University. According to town officials, the population in this small mountain community is growing with more than 19,000 residents. Image courtesy of the Town of Boone.

Community leaders in Watauga County are looking at next steps on how to create more affordable housing after a recent forum. The Town of Boone has made some policy changes to help address the issue.

The Watauga Housing Forum focused on safety, affordability and accessibility. Potential solutions were discussed, including expanding public transportation outside of Boone, educating landlords, and increasing regulations or tax requirements on Airbnbs and large rental companies.

Boone officials say there are currently more than 60 short-term rentals in the town, and an amended ordinance for them recently went into effect. In certain residential districts, only homestays are allowed. That’s where the person operating the short-term rental lives in the house, but can rent out a bedroom or section. Both types will require a permit.

Jane Shook is the director of planning and inspections with the Town of Boone.

"When you remove a home from the market for short-term rentals, you are effectively removing the home from somebody who could rent or own it to live there within your community. And so this is an effort to ensure certain areas are protected and that we are encouraging the right kind of use within those neighborhoods,” says Shook.

Boone Town Council recently identified and allocated $220,000 for affordable housing. They will vote on the measure later this month.

Meanwhile, the Watauga Housing Council will hold its first meeting on Monday, June 13, from 6-8 p.m. at Watauga High School. It was created to further discussions from the forum and come up with an action plan to help address housing needs in the community.

*Follow WFDD's Keri Brown on Twitter @kerib_news

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