Cary's affordable housing plan appeals to Wake family left homeless by COVID pandemic

CARY, N.C. (WTVD) -- The median price for real estate in Wake County increased $9,000 in just one month from May to June of this year. That's another blow to affordable housing.

In one Wake County town known for its quality of life, there's an effort underway to provide more affordable housing.

"I had lost my job, due to COVID and we ultimately became homeless," Nikole Steltz told ABC11.

But Steltz, her husband and her 6-year-old daughter eventually got help from The Carying Place, a nonprofit that works with the Town of Cary to provide immediate shelter and counseling to get homeless families back on their feet.

Cary quickly became home for the Steltz family.

"We just grew to love it you know, the food, the shopping, the families that were around us," Steltz said. "It was just, it just became very comfortable and we felt human again."

The family also fell in love with Selena's school Cary Elementary.

When they did eventually find work and graduate from the program at The Carying Place program, they couldn't find any rentals in Cary that fit in their budget and that were quickly available.

That's a problem for many, according to the executive director of The Carying Place who said, "The majority of our clients are in that exact same boat."

Leslie Covington says the Town of Cary has been gracious in supporting her agency financially by providing much of the funding to temporarily house the homeless.

Covington is also glad to see the town of Cary recently finish assembling a seven acre plot of land adjacent to East Cary Middle School and public transit designated for affordable housing.

Currently called the Maynard Transit Oriented Development, half the maximum 130 rentals will go for well under market value, as little as $750 a month.

The town also has made affordable housing part of its Cary 2040 Community Plan.

"It's really the beginning of a great effort," Covington said. "I look forward to the day when we are catching up with the actual need. Affordable housing, it's just, it's necessary. And it's a growing need and a need that we need met."

The Town of Cary hopes to get the land rezoned this fall and begin construction a year later.

If the Steltz family can't find affordable housing in Cary before it's finished, they would love to have one of those units.

"We shouldn't have to struggle and fight for a roof over our heads, especially working families," Steltz said adding that she hopes every city, town, and county in North Carolina and the nation is working to help create affordable housing.

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