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Affordable Brunswick County housing discussed at community meeting

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BRUNSWICK COUNTY -- Many people who work to protect and serve Brunswick County cannot afford to live there. That's according to a study done by the Association of Community Development Corporations. Friday the ACDC met with locals to see what can be done. Rosa Gardener already lives in Brunswick County, but having more affordable housing available could change her life. Gardner said, "My son left because he didn't want to live at home any more and he couldn't afford a place in Wilmington and there wasn't anything in Brunswick County." Gardner joined nearly 140 people at the county's work force housing summit. She said, "I'm here today to find out if we're going to get affordable housing in Brunswick County." The association says the main problem in building workforce homes is that builders just aren't interested in building cheaper houses because the construction costs are so high. Some people we spoke to say they can see things from the builders' point of view. Realtor Jody Wainio said, "If I had the choice to make $50,000 on a bill versus $20,000 on a bill I would bill the $50,000." Local realtors say there are options, though. Wainio said, "Different lending programs looking for tax credits in Brunswick and Pender County and land trusts are a possibility." William Rohe is Chapel Hill's Urban and Regional Studies Director. Rohe, who conducted the housing study, says there are solutions to the problem. He said, "Increasing the amount of area zoned for high density residential in the county… inclusionary zoning where developers are required to built a portion of their housing units and make them affordable." The bottom line for local farmer and mother Rosa Gardner: she just wants her son to be able to come back home and says all it will take is the county to decide on one thing. Gardner said, "That there will be affordable housing for people who really would like to live here." The ACDC says that it will take at least a year before political discussion ends, voting is finished and units start hitting the ground.

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