Rent in Live Oak County increased by 275 percent, and the population has increased in recent years due to new employment opportunities in the area. Those who are lucky enough to find vacant housing are often stuck with monthly rent fees higher than what a typical family income can afford.
But, before anyone can move in, the city council needs to decide how much it will charge for rent.
The council set up a committee on Aug. 5 to figure out for how much the units should be leased, and they anticipate getting that part figured out in about two weeks.
“Is it a solution to our housing problem? No. The council was just trying to give a small bit of breathing room for a couple of families,” George West City Manager Sandra Martinez said. “We do have a couple of city employees who are looking into the housing as well.”
The housing units, called cabanas, are basically modular homes or single-wide trailers with a front porch, living room, kitchen, master bedroom and bathroom, smaller bedroom or home office, and a smaller bathroom.
Martinez lives in the only double-wide the city purchased as part of her employment package, and when she eventually leaves, then the next city manager could also live in it, Martinez said.
She said it took her three months to find housing in George West and was commuting from Corpus Christi during that time. She said when the time comes for a new city manager to be hired, the city doesn’t want to have him or her commuting or house hunting.
“That was the main reason the council purchased the double-wide home; it is an asset for the community and an investment, just like the cabanas,” Martinez said. “We have police officers without a home. Where do they put the teachers and coaches? Yes, there is a housing issue here in George West, and we all need to address it because it affects everyone in George West and not just the Eagle Ford Shale boom.”
McMullen Independent School District recently completed construction of multiple housing units for its employees and is looking into building more. Martinez said she spoke with George West Independent School District Superintendent Ty Sparks and some of the coaches, and they wanted to know how many would be left.
The cabanas arrived in Cactus Park in late May or early June, five single-wide and the one double-wide unit for the city manager. The cabanas cost $38,400 for each single-wide and $82,000 for the double-wide. Martinez said the city got a discount from Palm Harbor because they ordered in bulk and paid in cash from the certificates of obligation funds.
The certificates of obligation funds are used for infrastructure such as the gazebo in George West city park, the public works building, water meters, street work and park equipment.
Martinez said there is another housing addition in the works for George West off Milam Street which could have 30-60 homes once completed.
“That is what we are needing here, housing for what we are calling ‘the professionals,’ the George West graduates wanting to coming back home, housing for city employees, county employees, Dairy Queen and Sonic,” Martinez said. “These are the people being displaced, and there is just not enough sufficient housing. We are hoping to attract developers for single-family dwellings.”
The George West City Council also discussed future projects it would like to begin saving for such as a new water tower and extending the city annex to the intersection of Highway 69 and Interstate 37.
“I believe in the long run it will assist the citizens even after the Eagle Ford because you will always have that traffic,” Martinez said. “The ultimate idea would be the city wouldn’t have to secure funding, but there is the probability we will have to invest, and we’ll need to have monies allocated for such a budget.”
Once rent prices have been decided, the city will have application forms available at city hall.
The next city council meeting will be held on Aug. 19, and a budget public hearing is set for Aug. 22.