HURRICANE, W.Va. — The results are in from an area housing needs survey launched last year by the regional economic development non-profit, Advantage Valley, and it reports that a total of 13,000 new households will come to the region as a result of the projected economic growth over the next five years.

In addition, the survey revealed that 30% of employers who participated indicated that they have difficulty attracting and retaining employees due to the current housing issues.

Advantage Valley President and CEO Terrell Ellis said there were 621 current homes available for purchase as of Oct. 2023, which represents only 0.4% of the housing stock, and construction will soon have to get underway for new homes in the area.

“We are projecting there will be a significant need for the development of new housing in the region, 11,000 new rental units and 20,000 new single-family homes across ten counties over the next five years,” Ellis said.

Terrell Ellis

Advantage Valley Board of Directors was joined by Patrick Bowen, President and owner of a nationally-recognized real estate market analysis firm, Bowen National Research, who helped conduct the survey, to present the results Wednesday.

The survey was launched during the summer of 2023 to gage the housing needs across the 10 counties the survey was conducted within the Kanawha Valley and beyond so that the economic development organization can help better prepare for the influx of more people expected to move to the area with oncoming new companies and job creation.

The study concluded that these new companies and oncoming jobs– including Nuccor Steel, Berkshire Hathaway, LG, Toyota expansion, and more– will fuel the growth of the 13,000 new households, as well as reverse a projected population decline that had long been the forecast. It showed that from 2023 to 2028, the region has the potential to create a total of 5,359 direct jobs and approximately 17,506 indirect.

Ellis said now is the time for developers looking to set their sights on new ground to come to the region.

“Our intention is to use this information to promote the opportunity to residential developers, property owners, people interested in redeveloping their property both inside the state and outside the state to come here, take a look, and see this as a new opportunity for them to invest and create a new project,” she said.

However, Ellis said the current homes in the region are outdated, with the average date of construction being 1966, and employers and developers are looking for new.

“We interviewed and surveyed stakeholders and residents in the region and they said that was one of their number one issues was affordability, the conditions of homes, you know, they wanted things that were more modern,” she said.

The survey went on to reveal that there is a current imbalance between job wages paid and housing affordability, with 79% of top occupations in the region not paying workers enough for them to afford a typical home for sale.

In addition, developers noted that the lack of available sites, cost of labor materials, and land were also an issue for residential developments.

However, Ellis said the survey gave them tremendous insight into the current state of the housing market across Boone, Cabell, Clay, Kanawha, Jackson, Lincoln, Mason, Putnam, Roane and Wayne counties, and they gathered that the region has great potential for more housing development.

She said the biggest area of insight was not only seeing the need for more homes in the region, but the need for more housing that people can afford.

“We have some issues with affordable housing for people making under $50,000 a year, and it really documented our affordability challenge, and so those are some other things we need to work on, as well, creating more affordable housing,” Ellis said.

Nearly 1,200 community leaders, residents, employers, lenders and developers gave responses in the survey.

Ellis said the next step is to spend time educating the community on the results of the survey, and Advantage Valley will continue to hold discussion events about those results. She also said they hope to educate potential developers on the survey in the spring and summer, and possibly give them tours of the region and all of the potential sites up for development.