The building industry in South Carolina cannot respond to demand in the same way it could in pre-recession years due to skyrocketing costs in land, labor, materials and regulatory costs. As a result, we are seeing more and more hard-working middle-class families being pushed out of the new construction housing marketplace because they cannot afford the cost of a newly constructed home in their community. These pressures are also now squeezing the resale and rental markets across the state as well. All these pressures combined are creating a very challenging atmosphere for any S. C. citizen to attain a home.
To kick-start more building activity at all price points and to develop a more sustainable housing environment well into the future for our state, I believe three cornerstone principles must be addressed by policy makers and community leaders to better encourage investment, eliminate costly delays and regulatory costs and help shape the industry’s future workforce:
I. Local Government Policies & Processes that Impact Housing Investment Must be Spotlighted, Identifying Impediments and Adopting Best Practices.
II. State Authority to Enforce Code & Land Development Laws Must Be Clear & Unwavering.
III. Efforts to Train and Attract Individuals to the Skilled Trades Must be Dramatically Increased and Sustained over the Long-Term.
The HBA of South Carolina and its members believe the recommendations linked to these three cornerstones are crucial. But, first and foremost, we need local community leaders and elected officials to hear and understand that the world has changed for our industry. Housing investment must now be looked at like any other type of economic development investment a community may need or desire. It won’t just happen.
If communities want to attract jobs to their region and have those employees live in their towns, they need to think about their housing stock and the review and approval systems they have in place for land development, new home construction and the renovation of existing homes. If they have a shortage of housing, they need to look at how their systems may be impeding such development and determine what they might be able to do to attract such investment in the future.
Lengthy and complicated review processes represent an especially difficult challenge for attainable (quality housing options at low and moderate price points) housing development. With a lower return on investment, attainable housing