It seems every industry is struggling to hire right now, but in McKinney, the labor shortage problems started before the pandemic.
Leaders say it has to do with a big problem facing many Collin County communities – a lack of affordable housing.
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General Manager Phil Farr is one of several top employers in the community who are backing calls for a “Balanced Housing Plan” from city leaders to address rapid growth and rising costs.
“The need for affordable housing is extreme,” Farr said. “Everybody is growing at such a rate here that there isn’t enough [housing] available in the area to staff everything.”
Lisa Hermes is president and CEO of the McKinney Chamber of Commerce. She hears from large and small employers every day about how it’s becoming too expensive to live in McKinney.
“[Employers] are having to find some people as far as Oklahoma in some cases to commute to our community and it’s all related to housing and public transportation,” Hermes said.
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Organized by the McKinney Chamber of Commerce, dozens of business leaders signed on to a statement publicly expressing their support for solutions to housing issues. The list includes the city’s top employers like the McKinney Independent School District, Encore Wire, Atmos Energy and area hospitals.
The statement cites a recent housing needs study that was presented to the city council. It outlines the rising costs facing renters and homeowners and recommends city leaders explore options like allocating public land for affordable housing, foreclosure and eviction prevention programs, zoning changes and incentives for builders.
Hermes said that could include denser developments, something many neighborhoods fight back against.
“There’s some fear that’s not based on fact regarding density, apartments, townhomes or people who rent,” Hermes said. “You can’t say no to everything. We have to have a bigger comprehensive plan at what our community is going to look like in the future.”
Hermes said failing to act now will only hurt residents and employers in the long run.
“We want to be able to be a place that every family at every price point is able to have a home and a place in the community,” Hermes said.