RALEIGH, N.C. — Rent in Wake County is rising, getting rid of hundreds of affordable housing units every year.
In the last 10 years, Wake County has lost nearly 45,000 housing units renting for less than $1,000 dollars a month. In 2010, there were more than 90,000 rentals for less than $1,000 a month in Wake County.
“Right now, we’re losing affordable units faster than we are adding them,” says Raleigh mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin.
That’s why Raleigh and Wake County leaders are standing side-by-side with partners from three of the state’s biggest banks to launch a new Affordable Housing Preservation Fund.
The new multi-million dollar plan will aim to make sure the affordable places that exist right now – stay affordable. Over the next 15 years, this new fund will aim to keep nearly 3,200 units affordable, allowing developers and nonprofits to get fast loans to buy or maintain affordable apartment buildings that are already here – instead of selling out to new development.
The nearly $62 million fund will provide loans to buy, rehabilitate, or maintain affordable apartments. The county says it will allow current property owners and nonprofits to compete in the hot real estate market.
Historic affordable rental near downtown has rooms for under $800 a month
The fund is already being put to use on a historic 83-year-old complex called Grosvenor Gardens. Its location on Hillsborough Street between downtown Raleigh and NC State puts the complex at a prime spot for development.
That’s why this new fund is helping the the City of Raleigh and a non-profit called CASA to swoop in and buy these apartments to keep them affordable.
Billed in a 1939 newspaper ad as “luxurious,” “inexpensive” and the “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 college student who needs the affordable rent.
In the last decade, the county has lost 59% of housing units renting for less than $750 a month.
He says the landlord at his old place raised the rent “at the last minute,” and, as a college student with a limited income, he had to find somewhere else to live.
Affordable housing competing with new developments
It’s becoming harder to find existing affordable housing, as inexpensive apartments are bulldozed for new developments charging higher rents.
As Raleigh renters feel the squeeze of rising prices, this is one part of the county’s affordable housing strategy to help keep families in their homes as the cost of living increases.
“Someone who makes minimum wage in Wake County would have to work 114 hours per week to afford a modest one bedroom unit,” says Wake County Commissioner Vickie Adamson. “This is not acceptable to us.”
Tucker Bartlett, vice-president of the Self-Help Ventures Fund, says the loans will go to non-profits and developers committed to preserving affordable housing – and give them a competitive edge.
“When we look at preserving affordable housing, we are competing with these investors,” says Adamson.
Since 2019, the county has also approved funding to build nearly 3,000 new affordable units.
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