As the Town of Marlinton moves forward with the removal of dilapidated and abandoned structures, it is displacing individuals and removing housing options. Nothing is easy about the process, but on a local level, it was decided we were not doing anyone a favor by leaving them in a shed with a mattress lying on four-bald tires to keep it off the ground. Another burned-out residence had a couple living in the basement. No utilities in either case. These sad facts have opened up an opportunity for new construction, to replace lost housing. The Town has already been informed these cleaned up properties have created a flurry of new interest, not seen in years.

With the removal of condemned structures, property owners have discovered their empty lots are more appealing than before and have more value than before. The removal of burned-out dilapidated structures has created renewed interest for building houses on stilts, raised above the flood plain. This could be the future of Marlinton. But Marlinton is not the only place with a housing shortage and others are working to address the problem.

A new committee, known as the Pocahontas County Housing Task Force, has been meeting to discuss options pertaining to housing needs within Marlinton and Pocahontas County. Thus far, the task force has had good conversation around key issues including a need for a housing assessment and what housing needs look like for each of the larger employers in Pocahontas County.

The Assessment will be valuable in planning for future growth and recruitment in the various fields of the hospitality industry, healthcare industry and other sectors, including the retirement market and remote worker market. The potential for assisted living for the elderly population of the community comes with its specific needs. It was also pointed out that with a housing assessment, funding is more likely to be secured with data supporting the need.

The estimated cost for a regional assessment is $100,000 and estimated to take one to two years. Now is the time to start, as this may be as good as it gets. Also, such an assessment would be valuable for moving forward with other projects in the future.