• Affordable housing issues on Haywood County’s horizon
• Habitat houses give people hope
• Old hospital’s rehab into low-income housing falls flat
• Affordable housing development looks for resources
• Self-build program empowers low-income families
• Some look to downsized housing for personal freedom, financial security
Anecdotal accounts of a tight housing market have long swirled about Haywood County, but a quick look at hard data shows why a task force has been studying the issue of affordable housing since March.
About five years ago, Suzanne Cianciulli and her son were living in a rundown mobile home rental while she tried to make ends meet working a retail job.
Despite a perfect score on its application, Haywood County was not awarded tax credits that would have helped developers turn the old county hospital into low-income housing units for the elderly, disabled and veterans.
Passersby probably don’t give a second thought to seeing news houses being built on the hillside when traveling up Jonathan Creek Road, but the development has quite a story to tell.
Mountain Projects’ self-build housing program is all about helping those who are willing to help themselves.
The Haywood Historic Farmers Market hopes to open its selection to an even larger portion of the population by exercising its new ability to accept food assistance money from the SNAP program — and use $14,000 worth of grants to make those dollars go further for SNAP users.
“Everyone deserves the same access to healthy local food, regardless of their circumstances,” said Carol James, a president of the market board. “We are pleased to be able to provide this access to those who use SNAP. Not only does it allow them to buy quality products from their local farmer, it puts them in a setting where they have the opportunity to take advantage of the educational programs at the market.”
In addition to food, shelter and medical care, access to a phone is one of life’s bare necessities — at least according to the American federal government.
The story is all too familiar.
A property developer buys a large swath of land with grand plans to build high-end homes and sell them for a substantial profit. But the housing bubble bursts. The lots don’t move. The property sits empty, and eventually, the developer can’t repay the bank loan used to purchase the land. It falls into foreclosure and becomes an artifact of the U.S. real estate market crash.
What was once a construction scene characterized by luxury, mountainside housing and second-home developments has a newcomer at the table. The latest construction project in Macon County are not mini-mansions in the highlands but a low-income apartment complex in town.