SOUTHEASTERN NC — Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity submitted a rezoning request to build an 11-home project in Castle Hayne, in a bid to bring a collection of affordable homes to a rural region of the county.
The current zoning permits an eight-lot development on 5 acres. Habitat wants to increase the density by three lots, said Lauren McKenzie, director of finance and operations for the nonprofit.
“That location, especially in Castle Hayne, is going to be a new community for us,” she said. “It really supports the affordable-housing model because it’s still close enough to where families can benefit from access to downtown Wilmington services, but they can also enjoy the benefits of rural living.”
McKenzie said 25% of the organization’s clients work in the healthcare field, while another quarter are employed in the retail and service industry. Habitat serves community members making 30% to 80% of the local median income.
Families put in hours building other projects in order to qualify for the homeownership program. Habitat’s clients have mortgages that do not exceed 30% of their monthly income.
To keep mortgage payments affordable, Cape Fear Habitat funds house projects from the mortgage payments of existing homeowners. “We can reinvest that into future homes,” McKenzie said.
“With the rezoning, we are still able to create lots that are around 14,000 square feet, which fits into the current community model that already exists,” she said. “So we think we can, by slightly increasing the density, we’re able to serve that many more families.”
While Habitat receives gifted land to develop, this parcel was acquired from the market. Property records show it was purchased for $85,000 in 2018. Habitat sells homes at appraisal value.
“We have several real estate agents who keep an eye out on land for us,” McKenzie said. “We are consistently looking for land opportunities that fit within our affordable house model.”
New Hanover County conveyed 14 acres of land on Castle Hayne Road to Cape Fear Habitat for Humanity last year, on an arrangement to create a workforce housing development.
In 2019, Habitat broke ground on a site that was donated by New Hanover County, which was previously used by the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority.
“One of our main missions is to help families build wealth,” McKenzie said. “Homeownership is an avenue to do that, so they can leave a legacy for the next generation.”
The planning board will hear the application in March.
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