Originally created 01/18/06

Myrtle Beach has state's highest rent



MYRTLE BEACH, S.C.- Myrtle Beach is the most expensive city in South Carolina for people who rent, according to a new report.

A two-bedroom apartment in the Myrtle Beach-Conway area has a fair-market rent of $684, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition.

The rent in Myrtle Beach is now more expensive than Charleston or Charlotte, N.C., the report says.

"Rent is so high, but the jobs don't pay the same as places like Charlotte," said Will Potter, 24, who works at a hotel front desk.

Mr. Porter moved to the Grand Strand six months ago from Charlotte and splits his $845 rent for his two-bedroom apartment with a roommate.

The average rent means a worker would have to make $13.15 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment.

"How many people make that? Not that many," said Judy Swanson, the executive director of the Grand Strand Housing and Development Corp.

"People working in the hospitality industry and in our stores - they may make $9 or $10 an hour. Not that many of them make that kind of wage."

Ms. Swanson said there aren't many places left to house the people who keep the Grand Strand's tourism economy going.

"I probably get five calls a day from people who cannot find a place that they can afford to live ... there's not enough apartments or houses that are priced that an average person can afford," Ms. Swanson said.

Just a decade ago, the Grand Strand had an apartment boom and affordable rentals were available.

But developers are now building condominiums, and rapidly increasing land prices have led owners to turn existing apartment complexes into condos.

Ms. Swanson and others are working to build more housing at affordable prices, but they struggle to find available land.

"West of the (Intracoastal) Waterway, there's very little land available that's not owned by large companies, said Cliff Rudd, a board member of the Affordable Housing Coalition of South Carolina.

"I don't know how to manufacture more land. I'm not sure what the solution of the problem is really."