Hilton Head Hospital offers worker housing to attract nurses, clinical staff to the islandSep 27, 2023
Another Hilton Head Island employer is taking steps to keep its workforce close to home despite increasingly expensive on-island housing options.
Hilton Head Hospital has entered an agreement to rent units at Coligny Plaza’s Lofts at Coligny Beach “on a short-term basis” for incoming hires.
“They will be offered at no out-of-pocket cost to clinical staff who are new to the Lowcountry,” a hospital press release read.
The housing complex is set to open with a ribbon cutting this Friday at 3 p.m. The units are owned by the Richardson Group, a regional real estate and marketing business whose website advertises properties across most of Hilton Head and Bluffton’s private communities.
The hospital will pay below area market rates to house the travel nurses and other staff that live in the units, according to a press release from the Richardson Group.
The new property is located close to Coligny Beach and Coligny Plaza’s shopping, dining and entertainment amenities. Hilton Head Regional Healthcare CEO Joel Taylor said in the release he hopes the location will help attract and retain “top talent” in clinical work to Hilton Head, and provide a better work-life balance for workers in an increasingly overwhelmed medical field.
Hilton Head Island Mayor Alan Perry has previously acknowledged the critical need for nursing workers on the island, and the nursing shortage continues to plague communities nationwide.
South Carolina is ranked No. 38 in the country for the ratio of nurses to residents, with 44,030 registered nurses to 5.282 million locals in 2022, according to NurseJournal. That equates to 8.3 nurses for every 1,000 South Carolinians, one of the lowest ratios in the Southeast U.S.
States on the high end of the spectrum, like Massachusetts, North Dakota and South Dakota, have more than 13 nurses per 1,000 residents.
EMPLOYERS CONTINUE SUBSIDIZED HOUSING TREND
The employer-subsidized approach has become increasingly attractive to Hilton Head businesses who are now competing with employers in growing towns like Hardeeville and Bluffton for labor. The rising cost of living has pushed many workers further and further from the island, and for some, the distance to commute and opportunities closer to home are outweighing island wages.
The trend has led several businesses, including the island’s largest employer, SERG Restaurant Group, to petition town council for a new zoning code in the Sea Pines Circle district to allow greater density of living units than currently permitted. Employers would then rent units for their workers to live in, keeping the workforce on-island.
Some town officials remain wary of the project, displeased with its lack of a long-term guarantee that the units would remain locked-in as workforce housing. Ward 3 Councilman David Ames has expressed concern the project, if not backed by a lengthy guarantee that the units will remain affordable for workers, could become market rate condos.
The first reading of the rezoning passed in August, and developers promised to set aside 20% of the units to remain workforce housing for 15 years.