SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. - San Luis Obispo County is struggling to grow its population and economy.
San Luis Obispo City held a State of the City meeting and touched on ways they are combating these issues.
The San Luis Obispo County population growth in 2018 was very sluggish, almost nonexistent.
According to the California Department of Finance, it only grew a tenth of a percentage point.
“Primarily we are dealing with an affordability crisis, a large portion of the population can't afford housing in the county,” said Executive Director of Smart Share Housing Solutions Anne Wyatt.
This hinders economic growth and businesses are discouraged from moving to SLO County.
“A lot of the businesses are struggling to find talent, to find a place for their employees to live,” said Senior Project Director of The Economic Vitality Corporation Loreli Cappel.
The Economic Vitality Corporation (EVC) is a nonprofit that helps brings business to SLO.
“We are working with 12 companies right now that are in the process of figuring out what they need next to do even more for us on the Central Coast,” said Cappel.
The city held a State of the City meeting and addressed ways they are combating the crisis. Local nonprofit Smart Share Housing Solutions is part of those efforts.
“We have a program called Home Share Slo, it's a home sharing facilitation program, that helps match people with an extra room with people looking for housing,” said Wyatt.
This helps the majority of renters who spend over 50 percent of their income toward housing in SLO County.
“At the same time the rents are high we also have a fairly low vacancy rate. That has hovered over 2 percent to 3 percent over the last couple of years so that limits the options and pushes the rents up,” said Wyatt.
Smart Share Housing Solutions has made matches for over 80 people. They also operate tiny housing consulting and do shared housing facilities by acquiring old bed and breakfasts or motels.
A recent big win for EVC was the SLO ranch and Avila housing development projects. The projects will bring several hundred new housing units to SLO.
Cappel notes that some will be priced at market value while some will be priced as affordable.