‘A place to call home’: Affordable housing options to expand in Beaufort County

WASHINGTON, N.C. (WITN) – The struggle to find housing is affecting families across the country. Now, one county in the east is trying to help by creating more affordable options.

Officials in Beaufort County are celebrating success in terms of affordable housing, breaking ground Friday morning on one of the sites where new homes will be built: the corner of W 6th and Van Norden streets in Washington.

“We’ve been talking about this for quite some time, to revitalize our inner city,” Washington Mayor Donald Sadler said.

That corner is one of several which will soon have stick-built, 1,200 to 1,300-square-foot homes. Other city-owned empty lots along 7th street will also be used.

In some areas, dilapidated homes will be torn down and replaced.

“With the inflation the past few years, the housing market has not become obtainable for your low- to moderate-income families,” Washington Housing Authority Interim Executive Director Shannon Alderman said. “So to keep this in the under $200k range is important to these families.”

Housing Authority Board Member Joneice Carroll believes helping people obtain safe, affordable housing could change the course of their lives.

“As a native of Washington, I’ve seen the roughest part of Washington and even lived in some of the roughest parts of Washington, but my mother was determined to keep moving until things got better, and so we just hope this is an opportunity for the people of Washington that wants that opportunity to make things better for them,” Carroll said.

Carroll hopes the community will set aside preconceived notions about people in publicly-assisted housing.

“People in [public] housing have the same aspiration as everyone else, and that’s to be treated fairly, to take care of their families, to make sure their basic needs are met,” she said. “More than likely, when we look at it, it will be a house that anybody could live in, and not be stereotyped and say, ‘Well, that’s a low-income house.’”

Brand-new affordable homes built on empty lots is an idea city leaders feel holds promise for everyone nearby.

“Part of it is to give people a place to call home, but also bringing some life back to the neighborhoods, so once we get this started, I think it’ll take off and we’ll see a lot of following improvement with it,” Washington Councilman Mike Renn said.

A committee that includes a contractor, city officials, and housing authority board members is finalizing the plans for the houses. Work is expected to start within about 6 weeks.

The housing authority won’t disclose the financial details of the project from its end. Washington City Manager Jonathan Russell says the city is providing a revolving loan fund to help support the project. The amount will differ by lot size and need, with a focus on affordable workforce housing to encourage home ownership.

Anyone interested in applying for a house can go to washingtonhousingauthority.org or contact the office at (252) 946-0061.

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