Work on Ocracoke, Live on Mainland

Proposed bridge to mainland Hyde. Construction will begin in fall of this year.
Proposed bridge to mainland Hyde. Construction will begin in fall of this year.

Ocracoke has an affordable housing problem. The powers-that-be (PTB) know how to fix it.

“It’s all about looking at our priorities,” said the PTB Head Honcho. “Do we want Ocracoke to be a thriving community of people who live and work together and all contribute to the common good or do we want Ocracoke to be a private playground for the rich with low-income workers shipped in to do the dirty work but not share in the wonders of the island life? I mean, ask me a hard one!"

Others on the PTB board echo that sentiment.

"Ever since Dorian, the housing problem has gotten worse. We have more people living in travel trailers than ever before. Who wants to see that? Those of us who can afford it would prefer to see other big, elevated, manicured houses like our own. Wouldn’t those people be happier with their own kind somewhere less… elite?"

"The low-income workers are bad for real estate sales. How can we sell 1.7 million dollar houses if the buyers have to look at some peon driving past in his rustbucket on his way to work? WORK!?! Who works anymore? Certainly not the people who can afford property on Ocracoke."

"Businesses are under-staffed, and there are plenty of jobs to be had. But the workforce does nothing but complain about the cost of housing on the island. Well, we’ve got the solution: MOVE."

"Some call it a housing problem,” said the PTB in a recent press release. “But we say it’s a transportation problem."

All Ocracoke needs, per the PTB, is to move their minimum wage/seasonal workers to the mainland (where there’s plenty of space) and bring them back and forth each day.

"Why not give Wade Austin the bridge he demands?” asked one PTB. “But instead of connecting Ocracoke to Hatteras for the visitors, we’ll run a bridge from Ocracoke to Swan Quarter so the cooks, the wait staff, the bussers, the retail clerks, the baby-sitters, the non-profit staff members, etc. can live somewhere designed for them while the rest of us enjoy Ocracoke."

"Seriously, if you don’t own a successful business here or have an off-island source of income, why do we owe you anything? Just because the entire economy rests on the shoulders of hard-working seasonal employees doesn’t mean that those of who reap the benefits of your labor want to share the wealth – or the island!"

A plan is underway to turn the old Mattamuskeet Lodge into low-income housing.

"We’ve been trying to figure out how to utilize that county asset," said the Grand Poobah PTB. "It’s not in good enough shape to let the public in, but it’s plenty safe for dishwashers and cottage cleaners."

Until the bridge project is finished, the PTB, in cooperation with the NC ferry division, will lease several high-speed passenger-only ferries to run the route from Swan Quarter directly to Silver Lake Harbor. The trip will take 30 minutes on the new high-speed boats and will make two roundtrip runs daily leaving Outfall at 6am and 3pm, and leaving Ocracoke at 2pm and midnight. This will enable the ferries to bring two shifts of workers over every day.

Of course, the PTB realize that there will always be some willing workers living on the island during the peak summer season. College students and trust-fund babies will find a way to couch surf or sweet-talk their way into summer digs.

"Hey, if you weren’t smart enough to be born into a rich family that can afford a second, third, and fourth home on Ocracoke so you and your friends can slum on the island during your gap year, then don’t come crying to me about not being able to afford rent. You make your own luck and you chose your own parents."

The OTB also announced that the Ocracoke Affordable Housing Committee has been disbanded as all the members have been relocated to Chocowinity. 

"We don't need that kind of socialist, communitarian thinking here on Ocracoke," said the PTB. "We've got stay focused on increasing property values on the sandbar. This is one real estate bubble that will never burst!"



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