GASTON COUNTY, N.C. — Gaston County is growing. According to Census Data, more than 20,000 people moved to Gaston County from 2010 to 2020, an increase of more than 10%. As the population ramps up, homeless advocates say it's become home to a housing crisis.
“Three properties under $1,000 a month and none under $885 a month,” Dwanye Burks, director of The Gateway Gaston, said.
Burks said the Gateway Gaston, a community resource center, saw an increase of need for rent during the pandemic, and it's not slowing down.
“We got to find a way to get affordable housing in this community," Burks said.
With housing costs rising, tiny homes are spreading as a solution to homelessness across the country. It's becoming an out-of-the-box idea, to get people without homes off the streets.
In Gaston County, zoning regulations have previously prevented tiny homes from being built. Now, a recent zoning change made on Feb. 22 will create the opportunity to establish tiny home communities.
“We felt it was something we needed to address, we wanted to be proactive instead of reactive," Brian Sciba, director of Planning and Development Services for Gaston County, said.
Sciba said the change was amended after several requests to create small communities with small homes. It will now allow for developers or nonprofits to build tiny homes.
Meanwhile, the county will wait for organizations to invest in these types of projects making the possibilities for tiny homes endless.
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“Anything from homeless veterans, to children who were aging out of foster care," Sciba said.
Sciba says they've seen success in other parts of North Carolina and hope they can have that success in Gaston County.