More money for affordable housing flows into the region
A $542,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, matched by more than $200,000 from the Dogwood Health Trust, will help fund six regional projects intended to alleviate some of the pressure in the affordable housing market.
“We’re not solving it overnight, and this is not the biggest pot of money on the planet,” said Russ Harris, executive director of the Southwestern Commission, Western North Carolina’s council of governments. “But it is something to move the ball forward.”
Together, the funds total $750,000, 10% of which will be used for project administration, leaving $675,000 for program costs .
On Aug. 19, the Southwestern NC HOME Consortium reviewed 10 applications for the funds, approving six.
Haywood County is the lead agency for the consortium, by agreement of other local governments. In that role, Haywood manages the funds and entertains recommendations from the consortium. No Haywood County money is involved in any of the projects.
On Sept. 6, commissioners approved the consortium’s recommendations.
Mountain Housing Opportunities will a develop a project called Balsam Edge, which will consist of 84 new rental housing units in Waynesville — if MHO is awarded low-income housing tax credits to supplement the $300,000 from NC HOME.
With $110,000 in funding, Mountain Projects will continue work at its Bethel Village site, adding 10 homes.
In Graham County, the Rural Development Authority will partner with Robbinsville High School’s construction class to build an affordable home every two years. The $125,000 in funding will be returned to the RDA after the home sells.
Four Square Community Action Agency will use $45,000 to partner with Swain, Clay and Graham County landlords to rehab existing rentals so that they become eligible for Section 8 vouchers.
Macon Program for Progress was granted $43,000 to help Macon County residents retain or obtain housing.
Haywood Pathways Center will receive $52,000 for operating costs.
HUD home funds don’t often filter down to rural areas, Harris explained, unless several different jurisdictions join together in a consortium. In 2020, local governments in six Western North Carolina counties — Clay, Graham, Haywood, Jackson, Macon and Swain — counties signed on to the plan. Cherokee County did not.
The consortium now qualifies for a $542,000 allocation each year; however, Cherokee County will join the consortium next year, which will likely drive up that allocation slightly.
“Well, you eat an elephant one bite at a time,” said Chairman Kevin Ensley.