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Sunday, May 19, 2024

Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity moves forward with new 27-home development

 (Photo Benjamin Schachtman)
About two dozen volunteers, including Wilmington Mayor Bill Saffo and several professional construction crewmen, helped put the walls up at a previous Habitat for Humanity build.
(Photo Benjamin Schachtman)

WILMINGTON — Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity has recently announced its plans to create a 27-home development off Gordon Road in an effort to provide more affordable housing for residents in the region.

The development, which will be located on Daniel Boone Trail, is expected to begin construction of infrastructure upgrades in the spring of 2018, and begin building homes soon afterwards, Steve Spain, executive director for Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity said.

” … We love Jimmy Carter, he still builds houses, but he didn’t found Habitat. he’s just a great supporter. We do not give houses away, they have a mortgage just like anybody else. The only difference is that we traditionally do zero interest.”

Habitat for Humanity is a well know organization that people actually know little about, Spain said. Habitat for Humanity does not simply give away houses to those in need, instead, Habitat provides zero-interest loans and has strict requirements for applicants.

“I usually start my talks with people and say, ‘you have all heard of Habitat for Humanity, you know that we were founded by Jimmy Carter and we give houses away,’ and some people will be nodding; I say, ‘no stop nodding. We love Jimmy Carter, he still builds houses but he didn’t found Habitat, he’s just a great supporter. We do not give houses away, they have a mortgage just like anybody else. The only difference is that we traditionally do zero interest,’” Spain said.

Home ownership is something that is important to building wealth and the economy as a whole, Spain said, adding that about two-thirds of all middle class wealth is in the form of home equity.

“One of the things that really attracted me (to Habitat for Humanity) is that home ownership builds wealth. That to me is the biggest thing, that every month that they are paying their mortgage, our homeowners are paying themselves about $200 in equity,” Spain said.

The organization focuses on ensuring homeowners do not spend more than 30 percent of their gross income on housing; this is a number that the Housing and Urban Development and the City of Wilmington both use to define affordable housing.

One of the difficulties Habitat faces is opposition from neighbors who worry about the type of people who move into the homes, Spain said. This is common anytime a developer suggests affordable housing, according to Spain. One of the common misconceptions is that affordable housing means public housing, which is not the case, Spain added.

The new development has received tentative approval from New Hanover County’s Technical Review Committee, and since there will be no need for rezoning, the development will not need to go before the Planning Commission.

The new development will not only provide benefits to Habitat homeowners, but everyone who lives off the currently unpaved street the neighborhood is being built on. The organization is putting nearly $600,000 into the infrastructure to bring the road up to NCDOT standards as well as providing water and sewer access to the future houses.

Michael Praats can be contacted via email at

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