the Wilmington Convention Center  |  September 15-18, 2018 Wilmington, NC
September 15-18, 2018

Affordable Housing

Stories with Impact: April

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Jess: We lived in a two-bedroom farmhouse, kind of in the middle of nowhere. Both of our kids are cardiac patients and Christopher’s disabled so that leaves me to work and with that where we lived there was no unemployment unless you are a schoolteacher or a farmer so the county that we lived in we weren’t able to find employment to stay there.

Michael McNair: So when we look at census data and what not we were able to discern that the housing wage is somewhere around fourteen to fifteen dollars an hour. You look at minimum wage that doesn’t work.

Danielle Butler: When I started doing this work about ten years ago the primary reason that families were homeless was unemployment. Now I can say we’ve made little progress in about ten years and that the real reason is underemployment.

Paris Jones: I see so many people buying their dream homes – they come down with some type of unknown illness and they can’t sustain their home, they lose their home and they end up just desolate.

Cathy Ward: I know that there’s plenty of service individuals in the city who feel as though they don’t have a place to live. There are single parents who can’t afford you know to find places close to either a bus route you know or schools.

Chris: It was just no one out there was nothing and just felt like we were drowning.

Jess: I lost my job four months before December. Because of his disabilities and the children being developmentally and motor skills behind, I have to be there to physically help address things in the house or help getting them dressed and we knew going into somewhere where they would split us he wouldn’t be able to do everything that needed to be done.

DB: Family Promise of Wake County is a nonprofit organization that works with families experiencing homelessness. We pride ourselves in two things the first one being that we can keep the whole family together that we don’t separate men from women and children or adolescent males from their parents like other local shelters do. And the second thing that we pride ourselves in is that we have a whole continuum of services and programs to help families exit homelessness so we’ve truly can take the families from homelessness to permanent housing and then we also offer aftercare services where we’ll follow the families for another year to make sure that once they’ve obtained housing they remain in housing.

Heather Thompson: This year we are partnering with about 12 nonprofits in the community and those nonprofits are really geared towards providing stable housing and healthy living options for neighbors in need.

So the foundation our role is to really come in and kind of be like the missing piece of the puzzle.

Tessa Hultz: When you get Realtors together you have a group that wants to improve their community and to solve problems and to make it better if it’s already in a great place. Realtors don’t just sell houses they sell communities and they live and work in those communities so they want communities that are healthy and vibrant and thriving.

HT: The partnership that we have is enabling the family to really have a place that they can go home because the comforts of home that a lot of people take for granted.

DB: Yeah, it allows the families to focus on the things that they need to obtain permanent housing they don’t have to worry about furniture they don’t have to worry about linens they don’t have to worry about any of that regular household stuff they can really just focus on whatever is hindering them from obtaining permanent housing.

Chris: My previous home wasn’t in the best condition and unfortunately we’ve lived with a lot of landlords that didn’t take care of the property

Case worker: “We reinspected and it was fine.”

Chris: “Everything was good?”

Case worker: “Yeah.”

Chris: Over here we don’t have to worry about that they really take care of everything.

Paris Jones: I’ve been thinking about buying a home forever. Actually when I was raising my three children as a single mom I was trying to go back to school so I kind of put the home ownership on the back burner to go for my degree because I thought that would kind of be the better route I figured if I went and bought a home at that time I would have probably ended up in a dead-end job trying to pay for the house and you know so I kind of had to think that through.

Michael McNair: We in High Point have been working in multiple levels to help get more affordable housing in the community. We had a fair housing action plan and now a fair housing plan said that you have too much concentration of poverty in the core city. You need to diversify the incomes you need to attract younger families – households –  into the core.

PJ: I went on my journey with my Realtor. I did the whole bells and whistles looking at homes and oh my that was a process. I kind of had to understand how people want what they put into their home they kind of want it back and overprice it and things of that nature.

MM: So one of the things that we got we proposed to our council and they approved was for us to establish the Core City Homebuyer Incentive Program.

PJ: Money that does not have to be repaid that helps you get into the program you know go towards your down payment… So that in and of itself it’s just wonderful.

MM: Really, with the Core City program, it brought in a lot of Realtors that we had not worked with previously. So that’s been good – that’s been good for everybody. It kind of raises the issue of what we’re trying to accomplish.

Laura Taylor: If you’ve ever known anybody who’s lived out on the streets especially for a long period of time rest is just something that’s really elusive – you’re having to fight to get everywhere you’re having to fight to get services and basic needs that most of us take for granted.

So the committee’s purpose is to utilize the membership of the Realtors to advance affordable housing initiatives within the community and to leverage our voice as a group to have an impact.

And so the affordable housing committee has quite a few projects going on. It’s a very engaged very well-educated group of people.

Neely Neu: Through the Affordable Housing Committee I met a fellow Ryan McCullough who started a foundation called REACH.

And REACH is an acronym for “Real Estate Agents Combating Homelessness.”

So REACH is under the umbrella so to speak of Homeward Bound Western North Carolina and Homeward Bound is a nonprofit agency that works to put people who are chronically homeless – so living on the streets homeless for a year or more –  into permanent housing and not only do they get housing but they get support and because of that, eighty-nine percent of our participants stay in housing they don’t go back to homelessness.

Cindy Ward: We’re looking to build a partnership with container units and the beauty of the container units is that they’re green, they’re incredibly affordable, they’re modifiable, they’re stackable, they’ve got a lot of flexibility and they could satisfy this initiative on numerous fronts.

Being able to potentially turn those units out quickly and then also really kind of satisfying a much needed item for the area.

LT: We’re working with “Room in the Inn” which is a program that provides shelter for a week at a time.

Shelter, food, transportation to and from their day center where they get some other services provided and we’re actually hosting that again this year in our Association offices. We set up a cozy environment we’re hosting this at Christmas this year again which is kind of exciting it’s my favorite time of year so I get a little nerdy about it and we have a Christmas tree and we have garland strung and we – our sole purpose is to provide them a place to rest.

Randall Barnett: We decided our centennial year would be the perfect year to get back in the groove and do another Habitat house so we got with Habitat chose a lot they put in the foundation and then groups went as firms we’d sign up as their whole firm and they’d go for a day, half a day or whatever and once the floor got in we had a certain day chosen for the wall raising so we built one giant big wall the length of a house and all the Realtors came and we all lined up raised up that big wall and we had hammers and we nailed it down – finished the house had a big ribbon-cutting at the end and we’re proud of the house that we helped sponsor build for a family for Habitat for Humanity.

Latoya Hickman: Well this is my this is actually my third wall build because I’ve helped two other families with their wall build and going to the construction sites and you know helped with doing their houses so… this one is mine! I’m excited about it.

Mike Campbell: Forsyth County has about 14% low-income families. When we talk about low income families we’re talking about the average median income being 50% or below. So in this area it’s those families who make $40,000 a year or less. In the next five years it’s projected to show approximately 8,000 units that won’t be available for low income rental or low income single family housing.

LH: I’ve been in the apartment that I’m in now for ten years but for the last four months I’ve been having some water issues –  flooding and fire from other neighbors and currently my tub is running and having to wait for somebody to come out fix that so…

MC: Habitat for Humanity has adopted the whole neighborhood vision when Habitat started it was changing lives one family at a time and working on homes on different streets but as we began to do that we began to see a greater need so all of the Habitats embrace the opportunity of serving more families and serving more people by doing the repairs and doing the programs.

The Realtor community in Forsyth County is very generous to Habitat for Humanity. They work with us when they find homes that might be potential Habitat opportunities something that is better being provided to a non-profit than it is going out on the open market.

The other piece is that they’re constantly fundraising for us. This past weekend we had the Hammerbird Run – Last year there were almost a hundred Realtors running in the Hammerbird Run; They have provided volunteers to work on the job site. When we can get the Realtor’s Association together and the Home Builders Association together we do amazing things here in Forsyth County.

LH: They teach you plumbing and landscape; they teach you banking; how to manage your money; how to budget, how to save. Everybody here is friendly, caring –  just it’s another family… another family.

HT: All the old adages of you know “Home Sweet Home”, “Home Is Where the Heart Is” all of those things –  everyone needs that.

JESS: …And finding affordable housing is very difficult as we have started to look.

MM: There’s a gap between what people can afford and what the marketplace offers.

JESS: Some of the apartments we’ve looked at are $1,200 a month. Some people don’t even make that a month.

TH: We’re looking for that foothold the place where we can dig in and really make a difference in the community long term.

DB: We’re coming up on celebrating our 25th anniversary and we’ve served over 1,400 families to date.

MM: Can we see…how do we measure that we’ve moved the needle?

MC: In the last 31 years that we’ve been here we’ve had over 800 children grow up in Habitat homes 500 of those children are eligible or have graduated from high school.

JESS: We hope to have a home of our own we don’t want to buy or anything like that but we hope to be stable enough to stay into a house for more than three or four years something that our kids can grow up in and call home.

LH: Just being able to have something on my own you know it is exciting.

CW: If we’re successful with this, other cities could perhaps learn from our experience and then use that as an example.

PJ: I have a six year old – I don’t think she comprehends, you know having your own property. I’ll say “This is our house,” and she’ll say “This is our house?”

Chris: Both my sons for sure have shown a lot more positivity they seem a lot more happy due to the stability. I myself, I feel a lot more confident and I feel like – I don’t want to speak for everybody but I feel like there’s a lot of hope. There’s people that care.

HT: The one thing I can say is Realtors show up and they show up big -When you put out a call to action for help they are lining up.

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We need your help! Be the star of your own story. Learn how »

One of the most important investments Americans can make is investing in a home.

However, due to various potential barriers, homeownership is out of reach for some deserving people and families. Some communities are burdened by extremely high costs of real estate, driving people who work in those communities to forego homeownership, live far away from the community they work in, or live in non-traditional arrangements, such as co-habitating with friends and family. Families who pay more than 30 percent of their income for housing are considered cost-burdened, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, “and may have difficulty affording necessities such as food, clothing, transportation, and medical care.” Yet, more than 12 million households pay more than 50 percent of their income for housing.

This isn’t a community-level issue; it’s a nationwide pandemic. NC REALTORS® is exploring affordable housing challenges, solutions, opportunities, and successes around North Carolina as part of our XCHANGE ’18 storytelling campaign. We interviewed non-profit organizations making a positive difference in local communities, REALTORS® who are engaged in their own communities and making an impact in the lives of consumers to help them make their dreams of homeownership – and even adequate housing – come to life, and families who have been blessed with the help of programs, agencies, community members, and REALTORS® and now have a place they call home.

NC REALTORS® will also be exploring affordable housing workshop-style during XCHANGE ‘18’s State of Real Estate forum in Wilmington on September 15, 2018. Together, with the help of decision makers, influencers, government leaders, politicians, builders, REALTORS®, consumers, and more, we will work collaboratively to dive into the root of the issues surrounding affordable housing and devise innovative strategies to provide adequate and affordable housing for all North Carolinians.

Now, more than ever, affordable housing is important to building communities and families to keep the dream of homeownership alive. What will you do to join us and be a part of the solution once and for all?

Be the star of your own story.

At the heart of America are cities, towns, and communities that are the pulse of all Americans – friends, family, and colleagues. It’s our communities, from coast-to-coast and small towns to urban meccas, that help make us who we are. They help to define us, celebrating, supporting, shaping, and lifting us in our time of need. Within every community are untold stories – of resiliency, hardships, growth, entrepreneurship, personal development, history, and homeownership – itching to be brought into the spotlight. It’s our mission to tell these stories and share them with the world as part of our #XCHANGE18 unconventional convention.

We need your help! As REALTORS®, you are epic relationship builders, close-knit community members, and master problem-solvers. You have your fingers on the pulse of the neighborhoods, towns, communities, and cities you live, work, and play in. These are your stories. Be the star of your own story by helping us bring them to life.

Below are the monthly themes we are crafting stories around. If you see a topic you identify with, please email Tracey Gould at

  • Workforce Housing/Jobs
  • Creative Use of Real Estate
  • Economic Development/Smart Growth
  • Advocacy and Legislative Impact
  • Education
  • Historic Preservation/Downtown Main Street Programs/National Small Business Week

Pre-registration for the Conference is closed. Onsite registration will be available.