Dare moves ahead on affordable housing

Published 7:36 am Wednesday, December 15, 2021

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On Dec. 6, 2021, Dare County commissioners moved ahead creating affordable housing.

For the Bowsertown project on Roanoke Island, the commissioners opted for 120 units, with 33 units at market rate, 63 units at 70% to 80% of the area median income and 24 units at 60% of area median income.

Rents are pegged at $900 for a one-bedroom and $1,100 for a two bedroom.

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The commissioners agreed to invest $8 million to subsidize the Bowsertown project, which will be built on county-owned land, outside Town of Manteo limits.

For next steps, Dare County will open conversations with Manteo about using available capacity in the town’s wastewater treatment plant. Additionally, the county must rezone the proposed property to accommodate 120 units.

Dare County has been working with Sarah Odio, project manager with Development Finance Initiative at the School of Government, UNC-Chapel Hill, since October 2020.

The commissioners delved into the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program. At this meeting, Odio brought news that the program will no longer work for the Dare County project.

With basic decisions made, Odio promises to develop a solicitation document once wastewater negotiations and rezoning are completed.

At the end of the Dec. 6 meeting, commissioner Jim Tobin presented a draft of a document titled “Request for Qualification to Construct Affordable Housing in Dare County.”

The board decided unanimously to issue the request, possibly as early as Dec. 7, 2021.

The document asks for submission of qualifications from contractors to help build $35 million in affordable housing. The $35 million was allocated to the county in the recently adopted state budget.

The legislation sets up requirements for a public-private partnership. Dare County must find a private partner experienced in developing multifamily, multistory housing units in Dare County, other parts of the State, or in Dare County and other parts of the State.”

Additionally, the private partner must have experience in executing a public-private partnership, forgivable loan initiative.

The agreement will be for 25 years and may be extended in five-year increments.

The legislation says the housing must be delivered at a cost savings between market rate and a lower rate between 70% and 80% of area median income at a percentage to be worked out between the private partner and Dare County.

Dare County must perform all administrative functions necessary to implement the agreement with the private partner.

The draft request for qualifications indicates that, once the request is published, firms interested in responding will have 30 days to submit qualifications.