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Cornelius News

As prices go through the roof, workforce housing is a big job

March 8. By Dave Vieser. At their March 1 meeting, the Cornelius Town Board unanimously adopted a resolution in support of the Cornelius Community Housing Opportunities “Fostering Affordability” report. The board members, in their resolution, urged the town to pursue all available resources to implement 14 recommendations and strategies.

The housing committee noted that there is currently no comprehensive Town Housing Plan.

Therefore, the committee urged the town to prioritize and budget for the preparation of such a comprehensive housing plan prepared in two phases:

Phase 1: A concise three-month effort to identify short- and mid-term goals and objectives.

Phase 2: A comprehensive long-term evaluation of housing goals and policies to establish addresses redevelopment on a town-wide basis.

Importantly, there are different needs in housing related to seniors, young families, millennials and workforce housing.

With 85 percent of the people who work in Cornelius not living in our town, Cornelius has a challenge.

“Creating a plan that fosters affordability of housing is simply beneficial in so many ways as it can enhance family financial stability and encourage those that work here, including our public safety officials, teachers, retail workers, etc., to live here,” said Mayor Woody Washam.


He plans to reach out to nearby towns in hopes of developing a regional strategy.

“It’s truly time for action in this economic environment,” the mayor said.

Affordable housing doesn’t come cheap.

Construction prices are soaring, said Matt Gallagher, a member of the housing committee, who works for Blue Heel Development.

“Building costs are a moving target right now with lumber and other material costs changing by the day. We are trying to project costs now for homes we will start in March and still don’t have budgets because the lumber costs won’t be committed to by the lumber guys unless they can deliver 7 days out. I’m 60 days out from needing lumber and therefore they can’t price,” he explained.

The report recommends looking at all options, including all neighborhoods and all types of uses as well as public input at all levels.

The plan says the town should also focus on all age groups from senior housing to millennials and the diverse segments that make up these age groups.

In response to questions raised by the town board, Deputy Town Manager Wayne Herron said the committee would focus on providing some specific cost estimates for the plan’s various steps so that the commissioners would have a sense of the expenses before they make decisions on the town’s 2022 fiscal year budget.