After many months of planning, the joint city of Wilmington and New Hanover County committee on workforce and affordable housing will be holding its first meeting Tuesday at the New Hanover County Executive Development Center.
One item the committee may use to help guide it is a community survey, which was conducted a few months ago by University of North Carolina – Wilmington professors Kristen DeVall and Christina Lanier. The two professors, both part of the university’s Department of Sociology and Criminology, put the survey together in conjunction with the Cape Fear Housing Coalition, a group for which the mission is to increase access to affordable and safe housing in the region.
The results of the survey were distributed online as well as via hard copy. They showed that 92.1 percent of the 659 respondents believe that there is a need for affordable housing in New Hanover County. According to the results, 36.1 percent of participants believe “affordable housing” in the area means a monthly payment of $500 to $799 for a single family home. Overall, 79 percent of respondents believe affordable monthly rent or mortgage payments should be less than $1,000.
These numbers, along with the other results of the survey, could be used in several ways, such as to set out a definition for “affordable housing” and to gauge people’s opinions on how and where to build low-cost units (which can also include homes and apartments built for senior citizens and retirees.)
For example, the results showed that people were willing to support various housing initiatives, such as governmental subsidies and incentives. But respondents had mixed reactions to how having low-cost housing near them would affect property values, as well as the attractiveness and character of their neighborhoods.
The survey results, as well as other studies, statistics and the expertise of the various members, will all be considered by the committee to help address the issue.
The ad-hoc committee is a direct result of last fall’s Mayor’s Roundtable on Affordable Housing, during which a panel of several community leaders from government, higher education, construction, banking, community non-profits and others gathered to inform people about the need for more quality, inexpensive housing in Wilmington and New Hanover County.
Made up of 14 members (seven appointed by Wilmington City Council and seven by the New Hanover County Board of Commissioners), the first meeting will likely involve introductions and a first look at the ways the complex issue can be tackled, according to officials.
The committee’s overall goal is to comprehensively examine the need for affordable housing and come up with best practices for addressing it, which they will then present to both City Council and the Board of Commissioners.
For more information on the committee and the meeting, click here.