'We need more of it': Construction begins on new affordable housing development in Raleigh

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Thursday, May 11, 2023
Raleigh breaks ground on new affordable housing development
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Ground was just broken on the Summit at Sawyer development project and eventually, there will be more than 150 affordable housing units.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Crews are in the beginning stages of clearing land and building a new affordable housing development in southeast Raleigh. The development is designed to help families struggling with the rising cost of owning a home.

Ground was just broken on the Summit at Sawyer development project and eventually, there will be more than 150 affordable housing units

Families are expected to start moving in by the fall of 2024.

"It's overdue. We need more of it in the neighborhood," said Raleigh resident Robert Smith.

He's been closely watching the development and waiting for the units to become available.

"I'm happy that they're building some houses that people can afford to have and live in," Smith said.

While the project would certainly help some folks, it's a dent in the overall demand for more affordable options.

"We're feeling an immense pressure as housing costs continue to rise rapidly," said City of Raleigh Housing and Development Analyst Holly Gallagher.

The ABC11 I-Team has been looking into this problem and what various counties or cities are trying to do to tackle the need for affordable housing.

A Durham mom of three children has been sitting on a waitlist for eight months.

"It's discouraging because sometimes I feel like I might be possibly homeless," said Shetarra Burton.

An ABC11 and ABC Owned Television Stations analysis of data from The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development found the average wait is about the same in Durham and Wake counties: People are waiting about 2.5 years.

ABC11 asked the City of Raleigh how long it's taking residents to get into one of the City's affordable housing units.

"A family can expect to wait anywhere from 2-5 plus years," said Gallagher.

Gallagher said the city has more than 9,000 households currently waiting on housing vouchers.

The City has a goal of creating or preserving 5,700 units by 2026.

Taxpayers approved an $80 million affordable housing bond a few years ago and that money is going to help with efforts.

Raleigh ranks 13th in the country for large metros investing in affordable housing.

That comes as home prices keep rising. The median home price listing in Raleigh is $449,000 and the median rent is more than $1,900, according to Zillow data.

"It's certainly a moving target with affordable housing in Raleigh with the amount of growth that we're seeing," said Gallagher.