Town council will address need for affordable housing in Boone

Anna Muckenfuss, Appalachian Weekly News Producer

The cost of housing burdens 81.5% of Boone residents, according to the town planning and inspections department, prompting the Boone Town Council to inquire about affordable housing options.

Town planner Marty Little said cost-burdened households pay more than 30% of their income on housing.

The annual median income for Boone residents is $13,149, according to the 2018 Housing Study Update, which the planning and inspections department presented to the town council. An income of $37,000 is needed to afford a two-bedroom home in Watauga County, according to the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency

Town council member Lynne Mason said she knows housing is a problem for people in Watauga County because of low-wage jobs.

The most common jobs in Boone are in educational services, healthcare and social assistance, arts, entertainment, recreation, accommodation, food services, and retail trade, according to the housing study.

“We’re looking at creating a zoning district that would help with the affordability aspect and creating multifamily options designed for working households,” Mason said.

Little said the new zoning district would increase the available housing in Boone. The town council will vote on the new district’s location.

“This would create a 4,000-square-foot lot,” Little said.

Mason said if more people wanted to live in Boone, the town would need additional housing.

“Affordable housing is a major need,” Mason said. “I think people resort to having to live farther out to find affordable housing. People should not spend more than 30% of their income on housing and utilities and housing-related costs.”