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Dare commissioners push forward on essential housing

On Oct. 19, Dare County commissioners moved ahead on essential housing.

The commissioners approved hiring an architect specialized in affordable housing to work on the county-owned site on Bowsertown Road in Manteo.

A comprehensive presentation from the Development Finance Initiative program in the School of Government at UNC-Chapel Hill kicked off the decision.

Marcia Perritt, associate director of the initiative, delivered a report on the Phase 1, which was to identify two sites for essential housing for a public-private partnership development.

The first site is the Bowsertown Road site, which has long been on the county’s list for essential or affordable housing.

Perritt did not identify a second site. She did say that the program had identified four possible sites, all privately owned.

As Dare County pursues an essential housing program, the recommended vehicle is the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which, Perritt said, is the program used to build the overwhelming majority of low-income housing in the United States.

For the Bowsertown Road property, the 4% credit program is suggested to build 64 privately-owned units with one- and two-bedroom units. Another part of the program is the 9% credit, which requires certain community amenities and less “gap” or county financing.

The initiative is targeting rents ranging from $680 for a one-bedroom and $810 for two-bedrooms, which rents represent no more than 30% of the household income.

Investing in a 4% program to yield a potential 125 units would require private investment of $17.5 to $18.5 million in tax credit equity and loans and $4 to $5 million in low interest loans from other sources.

At the Bowsertown Road site, the units would be two stories with parking underneath.

“There are a lot of challenges to this site,” said Perritt. In the middle of the site is the state-owned boat ramp with parking. Dare County owns land on both sides of the canal. The county will launch an inquiry with the state about moving the boat ramp to the other side of the canal.

The unit sizes would be 850 square feet for a one-bedroom and 1,000 square feet for a two-bedroom. These sizes may decrease to achieve more units.

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