Some people look to the Town to correct the lo-cal homeless problem. That issue is already well beyond what the Town can deal with. We move them from place to place. When the Town breaks up encampments and moves squatters off private property, we are doing all we are able to do. Would I like to see a homeless shelter that we could take homeless to when discovered? Of course. But, the reality is, if we had a homeless shelter, it would soon become another unmanageable mess for others to deal with.
Individuals taking personal responsibility is what we need!
Now, having said that –
Recognizing the need for housing had reached a critical point in Pocahontas County and that part of the workforce issue is associated with a severe lack of workforce housing, a group has been meeting for more than a year, brainstorming about pathways to solutions. Whether it be multi-family units or single dwellings, the pro-cess has begun to improve the situation, as far as we can.
The Pocahontas County Housing Task Force, comprised of approximately 15 stakeholders countywide, including local officials, banks, agencies, businesses and nonprofits, was formed in March 2022 and has been working to internally understand the housing needs of employers and residents and resources available to address these growing needs. The needs are clear through all industry segments including healthcare, timber industry, Green Bank Observatory, tourism and education. The need covers the spectrum in Pocahontas County but the Task Force is primarily focused on workforce housing at this time, seeing this as our greatest need to positively impact the growing tourism economy and employee housing demand. These are the individuals paying for all the other services.
Housing shortages in our area are effected by the growth in outdoor recreation, the rise in remote work, transition of existing long-term rentals to short term rentals such as AirBnBs, and second home sales. Each has contributed to an increased demand for housing.
With that thought in mind, retiring Convention and Visitors Bureau Director Cara Rose and Ruthana Beezley, Executive Director with the Greenbrier Valley Economic Development Corporation, have been instrumental in making the connections with the West Virginia Department of Economic Development on behalf of Pocahontas County. Using some enlightening facts from a housing report from ESRI Census Data, an application was prepared. The application is for a Certified Build District for Pocahontas County and it has been submitted by the GVEDC.
Hopefully, the Task Force will be receiving a response concerning the application within the next few weeks.