WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — A Wilmington apartment complex once in danger of closing for good will get to continue providing affordable housing to the chronically homeless.
Built 16 years ago, Driftwood Apartments offers 15 units to those who have struggled with homelessness more than a year.
“… as an affordable housing community,” said Cape Fear Collaborative CEO, Patrick Brien. “Specifically for permanent supportive housing. So for folks sufferings from chronic homelessness, a facility that would allow for those folks to have a safe, clean place to live.”
But January of this year, owners put the property on the market due to lack of funds and increasing upkeep costs.
Though longtime residents were asked to leave, William was one of two who stayed. He’d lived in Driftwood more than nine years, and was having trouble finding a new place to live.
“700 plus utilities was probably the lowest I could find,” William remembered. “And my disability only allows me so much.”
And William is not alone. According to a recent joint county and city meeting, over the next 10 years the area will have to produce 20,000 more housing units. More than half of those need to be affordable for those who make less $47,000 a year.
The demand for affordable housing has always been overwhelming in the Cape Fear, according to the Wilmington Housing Authority.
“I have a known need of 7,500 hundred families,” said Katrina Redmon, the Chief Executive Officer for the Wilmington Housing Authority. “And that’s been a consistent number since I came here in 2014.”
At the beginning of May, the Cape Fear Collective, a group dedicated to helping out community use financial resources and nonprofit expertise, announced they’d bought Driftwood Apartments for 1.2 million dollars. They plan to continue using it to give the chronically homeless a second chance. According to Redmon, it’s a sign we’re heading in the right direction.
“You must have shelter,” Redmon said. “You need to be in good health. You need a way to make a living. You need a way to buy food. You need transportation. But without a home, you’re really more worried about what am I going to do, and where am I going to sleep tomorrow.”
It’s a thought that’s plagued William and those like him for years, but thanks to Driftwood and the Cape Fear Collective, it could finally end for good.
“It was very worrisome. All very, very stressful. I’m greatly relieved,” William said.
According to Cape Fear Collective’s Patrick Brien, the deal will be signed next month. After that, they’ll begin renovations, cleaning out and updating spaces, roofs, and HVAC systems.