Change in funding for Dare affordable housing projects

Published 6:15 pm Friday, March 25, 2022

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A legislative change has been made in Dare County’s affordable housing program funded by the General Assembly.

Another, but local, change was agreed to Monday night by Dare’s commissioners.

On March 17, Gov. Roy Cooper signed Budget Technical Corrections legislation, H.243.

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That legislation changed the $35 million designated by the General Assembly from a forgivable loan to a grant to Dare County for affordable housing.

The funding comes from federal coffers. A rule for loans under the federal program is payback in four years, a too-short payback time.

Dare County engaged the state’s budget office and the change to a grant was included as a technical correction to the budget.

Coastal Affordable Housing LLC, the developer selected by Dare’s commissioners, will receive a straight grant to build affordable housing. Robert L. Outten, Dare’s county manager, reported that contract negotiations were ongoing with Coastal.

Outten brought a proposal to the commissioners after meeting with Woda Cooper Companies representatives.

Initially, the commissioners offered Woda Cooper the Bowsertown project. The commissioners had previously earmarked $8 million for the project.

Woda Cooper is proposing to build 100 housing units under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC, pronounced “li-tech”) program. Outten reported that Woda Cooper would build between 40 and 60 units on the county-owned Bowsertown site and the remainder on a site in Nags Head.

Woda Cooper asked for another $1 million to carry out the proposal. Under the terms, as described by Outten, the contract has some variables which may change the total to less than $9 million and would accrue to Dare County’s favor. If the total is more, Woda Cooper would cover the additional costs. Additionally, Woda Cooper is proposing a ground lease of 40 years after which the properties would be controlled by Dare County.

The additional funding will come from the fund balance excess over 21% in the county’s general fund. Dare commissioners agreed unanimously to the proposal.