families struggling in their search for more affordable housing

families struggling in their search for more affordable housing

WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) – Finding an affordable place to live has become a challenge even for people who have decent paying, full time jobs. There are projects underway but that itself is a long process and there are people who need a place to live now.

Nena Woods is one of those people. She’s living in a hotel right now. “I have an awesome job. I work full time. Work, work myself silly and I still can’t afford rent,” said Woods.

At 50 years old she never thought she’d be in a situation like this and at 700 dollars a week she can’t stay here much longer. “I’m mean it’s nice here. I have everything I need for right now. But after this I don’t know. I don’t know where I’m going to go,” said Woods.

Building more affordable places to live is Stephanie Norris’s passion. Her family has helped build and manage workforce housing developments such as Bennett Village, Lockwood Village and Estrella Landing which is under construction. Norris is working to educate out community when it comes to the stigma attached to low income housing when our neighbors need it most.

“It’s people washing your dishes, when you go out to a restaurant or serving you food or bagging your groceries or taking care of my kids and the daycare setting, you know, so it’s so much more than what people think. We’ve worked really hard to kind of change the dialogue to focus on workforce focus on affordable. And because you’re right, when people hear low income, they have a totally different connotation, they have a thought of what used to be public housing,” said Stephanie Norris, workforce housing developer.

Linda McConatha is a senior on a fixed income. “As you get to be my age and you’re living off social security which unfortunately isn’t really enough in this day and age,” said McConatha.

She lives in the Bennett Village complex, where depending on your salary and other factors the rent can be as low as $500 a month. She lost her husband two years ago and is thankful he found the apartment when he did.

“I am grateful for it because it is a nice place to live. I’ve never lived by myself so I wasn’t sure how I was going to do but I’m not afraid here,” said McConatha.

The process to build more workforce housing complexes is a lengthy one. Every year the Housing Finance Agency puts together a rule book for developers to apply for a low income housing tax credit.

“You go find a piece of property. You try to get that property under contract for a reasonable price. In New Hanover, that’s pretty tough to do or really Brunswick County any place on the coast is pretty tough to do. You’re putting your earnest money up at risk, you’re paying for rezonings and conditional use or annexation, and you’re spending a lot of money to make sure the property works. And then it makes sense. And you don’t even know if you’re gonna get the award,” said Norris.

The Bennett Village and Lockwood Village apartment complexes are full. Estrella Landing is under construction, it will have 72 units and should be completed by May of next year. They are compiling a list for anyone interested in living here.

That gives Woods hope “I’m not giving up. I’m gonna keep going until something happens. I’m trying to stay as positive as I can. And just to know that something has to happen. It can get better, ” said Woods.

The rent in these affordable housing complexes is based on the median income for the county and an applicants salary.

Click here for information on the workforce housing locations in New Hanover County. For the Estrella Landing complex currently under construction call (910) 791-3354 to get on an “interested list” at no cost.

NC Housing search is another website offering information on workforce housing locations and other housing needs.

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