Our aim has always been to make North Carolina the best place to live, work, and raise a family. Not only is our geographical landscape attractive to new movers, but so is our pro-business, pro-family, and pro-military political climate. As the nation struggles to keep up with inflation caused by reckless spending in Washington, we are experiencing record population growth in North Carolina – and sparse housing options. Hardworking families and individuals in the Old North State are paying outrageous sums of money to rent or purchase a place to call home – competing against cash-paying investors from out-of-state.

This increased demand for housing, paired with the lack of supply, has created an environment where the cost of living has skyrocketed. While we can’t necessarily control the demand, we can take actions to increase the supply of housing available – which will reduce costs and make living more affordable. One of the most impactful ways we can increase the supply of housing options is to ease the regulatory burden placed on developers while ensuring infrastructure safety and proper planning.

Builders are struggling to keep afloat just like the rest of us, as the relative cost of land, labor, and materials continues to inflate, with no end in sight for the global supply chain issues. In addition, the recent increase in population and demand for multifamily housing has resulted in higher construction costs. These factors lead to individuals seeking residency outside of the area where they work, creating longer commute times and a greater strain on infrastructure and traffic levels. 

Local government opposition to incoming growth, the “rural buffer” mindset, contributes significantly to increasing housing costs. The solution to the housing market is not more government regulation. In fact, more regulation would create a never-ending, self-perpetuating cycle of higher and higher costs for both builders and consumers. Less restrictive land-use policies would aid developers during the building process and allow them to sell homes at lower prices.

We should reconsider how we structure our housing developments to promote more spatially sprawled-out communities rather than having heavily congested “hot spots.” The critical factor in the unaffordable workforce housing market is excessive zoning restrictions at the hand of local governments. This serves as a deterrent to developers, which drives up the cost of building a home, along with the price of existing homes and rental properties – placing an overall strain on the surrounding community.

In summary, cities and counties across North Carolina should take note of their role in the affordable housing shortage. Creating more freedom in the developers’ regulatory environment will advance their interest in developing new housing opportunities that offer more affordable options to working-class individuals and families. It is clear that North Carolina is an attractive place for many to call home, so ensuring that there is a sufficient supply of homes on the market will not only help grow the local economies it will create new and better job opportunities.

State Representative Charlie Miller (R-Brunswick) is a member of the North Carolina General Assembly, serving as vice-chair of the House Committee on Energy & Public Utilities.