In North Carolina, nearly 9,000 individuals are homeless, many the victim of catastrophes and rising housing costs.
The pandemic has exacerbated housing concerns, with recent reports noting that 37.1 million U.S. households spend more than 30 percent of their income on housing alone. Increasing gentrification has modified once affordable neighborhoods. In North Carolina alone, more than 347,200 families lack affordable housing.
In Wake County, an affordable housing complex was recently purchased by a private developer who raised the rents to market prices. With no housing plans for these families and very few options, more than 30 residents faced eviction, with many at risk of homelessness.
“The entire county, state, and especially Wake County has been dealing with a housing crisis exacerbated by the pandemic,” said Passage Home Inc. Executive Director Seth Friedman. The agency provides homeless prevention, home ownership, and affordable housing placement programs to qualifying residents.
Passage Homes owns and operates more than 100 units in Wake County. Once completed, its newest development, Toulon Place, will house 200 units in downtown Raleigh.
Josie Banks, a tenant of a complex that recently sold for higher rent, was on the verge of eviction. Passage Home, Inc, support allowed her to find a new place, and she avoided being homeless. “Right now, I'm still packing. And thank God I finally got my keys to have a place to go," Banks said. "I have found a new place, Gregory Oaks Apartments. Passage Home helped me find that."
Affordable housing should be a right, not a privilege. The fear of being displaced because of market increases should not be a recurring concern. Low-income families are in constant struggle for basic needs, including an affordable place to call home. The affordable housing initiatives provided by Passage Home and other community action agencies will help to alleviate housing issues. However, more work is needed to eliminate the affordable housing crisis.