LUMBERTON — The North Carolina Housing Finance Agency has awarded more than $1.2 million in interest-free loans to build low-income housing in Robeson County for people who are displaced or have disabilities.
The Lumberton Housing Authority was awarded $700,000 to go toward building eight apartments in its Weaver Court development, while the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority will receive $538,000 to build six units in Red Springs.
The funding was awarded June 30 through the Housing Finance Agency’s Supportive Housing Development Program. Funding was also allotted for housing in Wilson, Garner, Greensboro and Goldsboro. Recipients must keep at least 20 percent of the units in the housing developments open for people with physical, mental or developmental disabilities.
Recipients were selected based on criteria including the availability of land, prior experience with supportive housing, and access to medical care, stores, emergency assistance and other amenities.
“In general, the small-scale type of housing developments work well in rural areas where there’s not an opportunity for larger development,” said Scott Farmer, rental investment director for the Housing Finance Agency. “A lot of times these smaller developments are the best way to get that kind of housing in rural areas.”
Margrit Bergholz, senior supportive housing development officer, said one-bedroom low-income housing units are particularly needed in rural areas like Robeson County. All of the new units in Lumberton and Red Springs will be one-bedroom.
“A lot of rural North Carolina is under-served with one-bedroom units … if someone has a one-bedroom voucher it’s hard to find somewhere to use it,” she said.
Larry Russell, executive director of the Housing Authority of the City of Lumberton Lumberton, says his agency plans to ultimately build 18 units for people with disabilities on vacant land at Weaver Court, which is located off of Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The apartments will be the agency’s first units specifically designated for people with disabilities.
The agency still needs about $600,000 to complete the eight units — considered phase one of the overall project — and plans to apply for loans and grants, Russell said. Ground is expected to be broken in late this year or early 2017.
“There is a need based on our current waiting list as well as the Section 8 waiting list,” he said. “We have a great need for one-bedroom apartments and there are people listed who have special needs.”
Russell started a similar project in Rocky Mount, where he served as executive director for Rocky Mount Housing Authority.
Springs Cove will be the third supportive housing project in Red Springs made possible by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency and the North Carolina Indian Housing Authority. The development will consist of six units in three duplexes.
Barbara Melvin, executive director of the Indian Housing Authority, said it’s too early to say exactly when construction at Springs Cove will start, but that the agency hopes to break ground in about three months.
Springs Cove will be located near Red Springs’ other two supportive housing developments, Parish Place I and Parish Place II, which are located on Sixth and Seventh avenues. Springs Cove will be on Spring Street near Eighth Avenue and will bring the Indian Housing Authority’s total number of supportive housing units in Red Springs to 18.
Melvin said she was glad to see two Robeson County projects will be funded and that Red Springs will see even more housing for those who are disabled or displaced.
“There is just so much need,” she said.