WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. (WGHP) — People in the Piedmont Triad are having to sacrifice basic needs to keep a roof over their heads.
The affordable housing crisis is having an impact on those living in High Point, Greensboro and Winston-Salem. FOX8 has reported on the issue before.
In High Point, there are an estimated 10,000 affordable housing units needed. In Winston-Salem, the number is twice as big. That’s 30,000 units needed in only two of our local cities. Those working to combat the problem aren’t sure they’ll even be able to make a dent.
“We’re moving, but we’re not moving fast enough to address what we know is a lot of demand,” said Kevin Cheshire, the executive director of the Winston-Salem Housing Authority.
That demand is clear when you look at the number of people on the waitlist for affordable housing units in Winston-Salem.
“We’ve got about 1,500 of those units that are available, and we’ve got over 40,000 people on our waiting list,” Cheshire said. “Now to be fair, a lot of those families are double counted, meaning they are on the waiting list for multiple communities within our portfolio…nevertheless, the demand there for our hard units is significant.”
There is help on the way. The city is using a $30 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to re-develop existing public housing no longer in use and create 400 new units. The first phase of the development is underway on Highland Avenue and will be ready to lease in early 2024.
Unfortunately, the buildings aren’t popping up fast enough to match the need.
“In the history of the organization, which is fast approaching 100 years of existence, we’ve only developed 1,500 units of public housing,” Cheshire said. “If you think about needing 20,000, we’re just not going to be able to do that.”
In High Point, developers are also struggling to keep up.
“When they do…open up the application process, what they’re actually seeing is that they may have about 70 or 80 units, but they will receive 13 to 1,500 applications,” said Thanena Wilson, the director of Community Development and Housing for High Point.
There’s an affordable housing complex for people 55 and older, which is expected to open within the next year off Samet Drive. There were crews out working on the site Tuesday night.
The city wants to recruit more developers interested in these types of projects.
“The need is so great that there is enough room and enough work for everyone for anybody that wants to come to High Point,” Wilson said.
A lot of times, developers run into problems with bringing affordable housing to areas because some people don’t want it in their neighborhood.
Wilson said it’s all about educating people. She said it won’t decrease your property value and won’t raise the crime rate. Most of the time, it’s families just looking for a decent place to stay.