SEVIER COUNTY, Tenn. — In reports since the deadly wildfires, 10News spoke to Sevier County leaders about the affordable housing need deficit.
A county-commissioned study showed a need for 1,500 to 2,000 affordable units. Now, in 2019, crews are breaking ground on many projects that will bring the county closer to meeting the need.
"You know even before the fires we had a housing issue," said Sevier County Mayor Larry Waters. "The projects we have on the drawing board, we don't look at as the end game. We need more and we're going to continue to try to encourage that to happen."
Thanks to the Low Income Housing Tax Credits from the Tennessee Housing Development agency, Sevier County will have seven new projects or about 500 units built in 2019 or 2020.
Allen Newton, head of the Sevier County Economic Development Council says other projects in the works will bring the total number of affordable units to about 1,200 sometime in 2020. Many of them include various breaks the county gave to encourage development.
"We're open to trying to help developers any way we can to get the housing in here," said Newton. "We can't go out and recruit people to come in here and live because we really don't have that many places for them to choose from. Approximately 50 percent of our work force currently comes from outside of Sevier County."
Both Newton and Mayor Waters say these new and developing projects are just the start.
Since 1,200 units will not fully meet the need, they say they hope to have more in the works as soon as possible.