City of Raleigh buys affordable housing to protect it from developers

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RALEIGH, North Carolina — Rents in Wake County are rising, wiping out hundreds of affordable housing each year.

Over the past 10 years, Wake County has lost nearly 45,000 homes rented for less than $1,000 a month. In 2010, there were over 90,000 rentals for less than $1,000 per month in Wake County.

“Right now, we’re losing affordable housing faster than we’re adding,” Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin said.

That’s why Raleigh and Wake County leaders are standing side-by-side with partners from three of the state’s largest banks to launch a new Affordable Housing Preservation Fund.

The new multimillion-dollar plan will aim to ensure that the affordable venues that currently exist remain affordable. Over the next 15 years, this new fund will aim to maintain nearly 3,200 affordable units, allowing developers and nonprofits to get quick loans to buy or maintain affordable apartment buildings that are already there. – instead of selling to new developments.

The nearly $62 million fund will provide loans to buy, rehabilitate or maintain affordable apartments. The county says it will allow current homeowners and nonprofits to compete in the boiling real estate market.

Historic Affordable Rental Near Downtown With Rooms For Less Than $800 A Month

The fund is already being used for an 83-year-old landmark complex called Grosvenor Gardens. Its location on Hillsborough Street, between downtown Raleigh and NC State, places the complex in a prime location for development.

That’s why this new fund is helping the City of Raleigh and a non-profit organization called CASA get started and buy these apartments to keep them affordable.

Featured in a 1939 newspaper ad as “luxurious”, “cheap” and “most modern” apartments in Raleigh, Grosvenor Gardens offers some of the most affordable rental prices in the area.

“I pay $795 a month,” says Ian Price, a student who needs affordable rent.

Over the past decade, the county has lost 59% of units rented for less than $750 per month.

He says the landlord of his old place raised the rent “at the last minute” and, as a student on a limited income, he had to find alternative accommodation.

Affordable housing competing with new developments

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find existing affordable housing as cheap apartments are bulldozed for new developments with higher rents.

As Raleigh renters feel the pressure of rising prices, it’s part of the county’s affordable housing strategy to help keep families in their homes as the cost of living rises.

“Someone making minimum wage in Wake County would have to work 114 hours a week to afford a modest one-bedroom unit,” said Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “It is not acceptable to us.”

Tucker Bartlett, vice president of the Self-Help Ventures Fund, says the loans will go to nonprofits and developers committed to preserving affordable housing — and give them a competitive edge.

“When we seek to preserve affordable housing, we are in competition with these investors,” says Adamson.

Since 2019, the county has also approved funding to build nearly 3,000 new affordable housing units.

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