Wilmington tackles affordable housing with local, state funds

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North Carolina Construction News staff writer

Starway Village, an affordable housing development in Wilmington will be built with a $9-million grant from the North Carolina Office of Recovery and Resiliency (NCORR). The city, New Hanover County, and NCORR have contributed more than $16 million to the project, which will add 278 affordable units to the city.

Officials estimate the area needs 10,700 additional units over the next decade. According to the Bowen National Research Report, commissioned by the joint City of Wilmington/New Hanover County Workforce Housing Advisory Committee, the city has an annual gap of 416 rental units. Between 2010-2020, only 396 units of affordable rental housing were constructed.

“Through these partnerships with local and state agencies, we’re able to diminish the gap between the demand for affordable housing and the local supply,” Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo said. “Starway Village is filling a critical need in an area that is immediately accessible to public transportation and has walkability to retail and food destinations.

“It is integrating existing infrastructure and taking advantage of its proximity to existing services, like medical and recreational facilities. We are proud to support Starway Village, an exemplar and efficient infill development that will benefit the community for years to come.”

In November, council approved $3.5 million gap financing for Starway Village, along with New Hanover County Commissioners who approved $1.8 million in ARPA funds toward the project – the largest gap funding commitment ever.

“Partnerships are key to increasing affordable housing stock in our community, and Starway Village is a prime example of that,” said New Hanover County Board of Commissioners Chair Julia Boseman. “This project will bring 278 new affordable units online for our teachers, emergency responders, healthcare workers, and many others who contribute daily to our community.

“Being able to live affordably in our community is something we are actively working on at the county and in partnership with the city, community organizations and local developers. It’s important that we are all at the table to bring even more affordable housing opportunities to our workforce.”

The need for affordable housing was further exacerbated due to Hurricane Florence, which damaged at least 1200 rental units, displacing lower-income households. Starway Village will replace naturally occurring affordable housing, both multi-family and single-family, that was lost during the hurricane.

“Creating safe, affordable housing in storm-impacted regions of the state is a key component of NCORR’s mission and critical to building community resilience,” said NCORR Director Laura Hogshead. “We welcome the opportunity to support Starway Village and help fill Wilmington’s rental housing needs shortfall.”

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