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Franklin County housing shortage problematic for buyers, renters, region’s growth

‘I think it just opened some eyes’

FRANKLIN COUNTY, Va. – If you want to buy or rent a home in Franklin County, you might be out of luck.

A new study shows that there is a housing shortage in the county.

Steven Sandy, the county’s director of planning and community development, said that the study found that there’s not enough options to buy or rent, especially for low-income or high-income individuals.

“I think it just opened some eyes," said Sandy.

The county initiated the study to look at housing options in Ferrum and across the county. It cost about $10,000 and was funded by a Virginia Housing Development Authority grant.

The county’s vacancy rate is only 2%. It should be 3-5%.

“There’s very few options that are on the market and the ones that are on the market seem to go very quickly," said Sandy.

Franklin County resident and landlord Cindy Stiles has seen the shortage firsthand. She sold her home in two days.

“Not having enough housing, of course, is going to hurt. You’ve got to have a place to put people of all economic levels.”

Glynn Dudley and his family own properties in Franklin County and never have trouble finding renters.

“The market absorption is really good. You know, if you put in a new property, you’re going to keep it rented. We don’t have any openings right now, actually, in any of our rental properties," said Dudley.

In Ferrum, Sandy said there’s a need for more senior housing options. County leaders identified an 82-acre plot of land that is owned by the county and sits right next to Ferrum College they could develop.

“We see that as a bringing more potential faculty and students to the community, as well. So we see that as an area that is, you know, prime for some growth," said Sandy.

Between Summit View Business Park and Smith Mountain Lake, Sandy doesn’t want a lack of housing to stunt the county’s growth.

He said a solution will come down to finding out what kind of housing people want and need, dealing with zoning laws, especially around the lake, and looking for developers willing to take a risk.


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