Efforts underway to address need for housing in Lumberton | #schoolshooting

Construction workers Ruben Martinez, left, and Mauricio Antonio work Tuesday afternoon to cut and place insulation board at the site of a housing complex on Elizabethtown Road in Lumberton.

LUMBERTON — The plan to build a public housing development has not been dropped, in spite of many challenges, the executive director for the city’s housing authority said Tuesday.

The Housing Authority of The City of Lumberton is considering two locations in Lumberton for the site of a housing complex to replace 72 units in Hilton Heights and Myers Park that were lost to Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Adrian Lowery said.

One location is owned by the city and the other by an individual, he said. The Housing Authority is waiting for a commercial real estate appraisal on the individual’s property in the eastern part of Lumberton so it can begin the process of securing the land.

The owner is interested in selling, and city staff are on board, Lowery said.

“It’s just a matter of getting that appraisal,” he said.

The relocation effort comes after a vote during a June 25 City Council meeting to deny a request to rezone 9.73 acres of land at 2440 E. Fifth St., or N.C. 211, from business general commercial/mobile home sales to multifamily for the construction of a housing complex.

The Housing Authority still has the $12 million in Federal Emergency Management Agency and Community Development Block Grant funding for the project, and will use it to build a complex when it can secure a site.

The executive director is concerned about the delay in the project.

“We’re fixing to be in October, that storm was four years ago,” he said.

Some of the people living in Hilton Heights and Myers Park have been forced to move in with families or move away, Lowery said.

In other public housing news, the Authority will reach out to FEMA in hopes of securing a funding source for the rehabbing or relocating of 29 units in Turner Terrace and 67 units in Lumbee Homes, he said. It would cost between $10 million and $15 million for the Lumbee Homes portion alone.

The relocation of the Hilton Heights administrative building to a property at 307 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive is in the design phase, Lowery said. The Housing Authority has received a project award letter from the state’s Community Development Block Grant Recovery Program for the $1.7 million project.

“We’re hoping to be in that property by December of next year,” Lowery said.

The county has a “severe shortage” of low-income housing, he said.

But, the city of Lumberton has a variety of housing projects underway, City Manager Wayne Horne said Tuesday.

A Mills Construction crew is working on a 72-unit multi-family housing complex at a property on Elizabethtown Road. Four homes are under construction as part of the $3.2 million East Lumberton Affordable Housing Project, which is being built using state money.

Also, as a part of the affordable housing project, qualifying families displaced by hurricanes Matthew and Florence can get up to $60,500 in state money to help buy a new home.

Two of the homes under construction at the end of Horne and Hanover streets are spec homes, or move-in-ready homes, similar in design to the other homes under construction.

“It’s really changing the dynamic of the neighborhood,” said Brandon Love, deputy city manager.

The city also is working to acquire, elevate and reconstruct homes as part of the Hurricane Matthew Hazard Mitigation Program, which has a price tag of a little more than $12.8 million. Thirteen homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Matthew have been approved for elevation, 31 were bought out at the owners’ request, and 27 will be rebuilt. The city has demolished and cleared 20 home lots that can be turned into green spaces.

The city is waiting for information and a budget from the state before it begins the Hurricane Florence HMGP, which includes the acquisition of 57 homes and the elevation of 16, all affected by the storm that hit Robeson County in September 2018.

Permits from the state and city are in the process of being secured for the construction of the 66-unit Winecrest Senior Housing complex on a five-acre lot at Linwood Avenue and McPhail Road. The $10.2 million project is funded through a bond transaction, with the N.C. School of Governments’ Development Finance Initiative as a consultant and Pendergraph of Raleigh as the project developer.

The city also anticipates the construction of a 72-unit housing complex on N.C. 41.

If all goes according to plan, by the fourth quarter of 2021 the city will have built more than 300 units since 2017, Love said.

Reach Jessica Horne at 910-416-5165 or via email at [email protected]

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