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Brantley Day

Cherokee County and the cities within it could have a county-wide study on the housing market that would inform decisions about affordable housing.

Cherokee County, with the cities of Ball Ground, Canton, Holly Springs, Waleska and Woodstock, is applying for a Community Development Assistance Program grant from the Atlanta Regional Commission to fund a housing study.

According to the resolutions signed by local government officials, a study is needed to strategically plan for affordable and workforce housing. The current median home list price in Cherokee is $321,730, and home values have gone up 8.9 percent in the past year, according to Zillow, a real estate database.

Brantley Day, Woodstock’s director of community development, said that the city reached out to the county to potentially conduct a county-wide study, as all the local governments have identified a need for housing studies in their comprehensive plans.

“Once we have an overview of housing in the county, we can better plan how to address affordable and workforce housing demand,” Day said in an interview with the Tribune Wednesday. “Not only is it a goal in our adopted comprehensive plans, it’s there because we’re all aware of the fact housing costs have increased dramatically, even in the last five years. We have a lot of employees throughout the county that are starting to have challenges finding places they can afford to rent or buy. What we want to do is strategically plan for how to address that issue.”

As part of the program, the county and Canton, Holly Springs and Woodstock have agreed to pay collectively a local match of 20 percent, or $30,000, to fund the study. The total cost of the study would be $150,000, with 80 percent from federal funds.

If the grant is awarded, the scope of the study would include an occupational overview, with average salaries for positions like teachers and government employees to determine the percentage of workers in the county who cannot afford to live there, as well as a comparison of Area Median Income levels for each household with the costs of homes being developed in the county. The project would also include a market study of possible sites for affordable and workforce housing. If approved, the study will have specific recommendations for the county and cities.

Shannon is a reporter covering education, city governments, crime, features, religion and other local news. She is a graduate of Young Harris College and currently lives in unincorporated Woodstock.

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