Wilmington votes to improve housing program

WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — Wilmington City Council says affordable housing is one of their top priorities and they addressed it at City Hall Tuesday night.

HOP, or Home Ownership Pool program, helps moderate and low-income households purchase homes they normally wouldn’t be able to afford.

If they qualify for the program, they can get loans with lower interest rates and can avoid paying private mortgage insurance.

“It really helped me,” said Wilmington resident Jennifer Bivins. “It created an opportunity for me that I probably wouldn’t have had.”

Bivins, a school teacher and single mother, says while the program was extremely helpful, it took her a while to find a house that met the HOP guidelines.

“I haven’t seen a home like within the price range that I found since I bought the house,” Bivins said. “I think I put an offer on like seven houses before I found the one.”

Community Development Analyst Dana Blanks says as home prices continue to increase, HOP is having a harder time providing people with loans.

“Generally we do somewhere between, I would say anywhere between 15 to 20 or 25 loans a year, and last year we were only able to do seven. Because the housing prices have risen,” said Blanks.

For example, a two-bedroom house on Wrightsville Avenue built in 1917 is currently listed on Zillow for just under $150,000. While the listing boasts plenty of renovations, it can be hard to find something big enough for a family under the HOP program’s $185,000 cap.

City council voted Tuesday night to revise the program to account for the current average home price in New Hanover County of $338,000.

“Part of it is doing 50 percent at interest, and then 50 percent at no interest, will allow our buyers to afford a little bit more,” said Blanks.

City council also voted to approve changes to the city’s Rental Rehabilitation Incentive Loan Program, which provides loans to developers, investors, or anyone who can build or rehabilitate existing vacant units to create more affordable housing.

The revisions to that program improve incentives for developers.

Categories: Local, New Hanover