Wake County faces affordable housing crisis

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The county is growing, but some say many people are being left behind.

A mass eviction in Garner and a dispute over Habitat for Humanity homes in Cary are putting more pressure on Wake County leaders to solve the shortage of affordable places to live. There's more money in next year's county budget for affordable housing; but is it enough?

To be sure, Wake County is rising; but many folks are being left behind. With a population of more than 1,049,000, Wake is growing by over 60 people per day and property values are rising countywide. But, what is also rising is the need for government to help connect people with homes and rentals they can afford.

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"We definitely know we have an affordable housing issue in Wake County," said Wake Deputy County Manager David Ellis.

Ellis refused to guess about how much it would take to get Wake County where it needs to be on spending toward affordable housing.

"It'll definitely be over a million dollars," Ellis said when asked if the total would be into the millions.

RELATED: Wake County leaders make plea for help for Garner apartment residents

The crisis came to a head this spring when low-income residents marched to Garner Town Hall.

They were facing sudden eviction when their new landlord decided to no longer accept federal housing vouchers. Now forced to hunt for new places, they're facing waiting lists for low-income housing that in some cases are years long.

RELATED: Habitat for Humanity reshaping plans for Cary

And right now in Cary, neighbors are fighting a plan to build 23 Habitat for Humanity town homes on a 2.5 acre plot of land near their single family homes. Neighbors say it's not a good fit.

Cary accounts for less than 3 percent of the subsidized housing stock in Wake.

But Ellis says the county is committed to spending more. The county manager is proposing to spend $7.8 million in next year's budget - 1.1 million more than last year to partner with non-profits to build more affordable housing and subsidize rents for low-income residents.

"I believe it is (enough money), until we have a plan that's going to guide us and let us know where we should be putting our resources," Ellis said. "We want to find where that gap is and help fill that gap."

Currently, there is an affordable housing task force of 29 people working to find solutions to some of the ongoing problems. The task force's findings should give county leaders a better idea of what the price tag will be.

That report is not due until the fall.

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Related Topics:
affordable housingwake county newshabitat for humanityGarnerCaryRaleigh
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