Concerns over affordable living in Beaufort

Concerns over affordable living in Beaufort

BEAUFORT, S.C. (WTOC) - The mayor of Beaufort is calling for a change. He says it is getting too expensive to live in the city and the county.

“We haven’t been as mindful as prices of housing have risen,” Beaufort Mayor Billy Keyserling said.

The mayor says housing is one of the big obstacles in Beaufort County.

“You can’t change the price of land. You can’t change the price of construction,” Mayor Keyserling said.

He goes on to say a group of key workers are being squeezed out of the area because of these issues.

“Nurses, teachers, and public service, public safety officials, firefighters and police officers are finding it hard on the wages they earn here to find places they can afford,” Mayor Keyserling said.

If you look at teachers as the example in that scenario, the math checks out. According to the Beaufort County School District, a first-year teacher will make about $37,000 per year plus another $5,000 added on for the cost of living in Beaufort.

After five years, that teacher would be making $40,000 again plus another $5,000 just for that cost-of-living.

The school system says the added $5,000 doesn’t always help.

“We have 2,800 employees in the school district. 1,700 are teachers. A lot of them have to have second or third jobs just to keep their heads above water,” Beaufort County School District Director of Communications Jim Foster said.

Finding new teachers can also be an issue due to the cost of housing.

“But it’s also a challenge for us in recruiting new teachers because when teachers do look at us and then they look at the price of housing here, we find that we lose a lot of them,” Foster said.

The mayor says he’s hoping teaming up with mayors from other municipalities to lower the county and city fees.

“We have to look at our fees and then we have to get with the county and talk about what we do with so-called impact fees. If anything, we can do to get these prices down so people can afford them,” Mayor Keyserling said.

The mayor is hoping this will help with the problem and drop more young professionals in.

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