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CoastLine: Affordable Housing, Gentrification, And Stalled Governmental Efforts

Work continues at Lena Springs Estates, one of the region's affordable housing developments.
Work continues at Lena Springs Estates, one of the region's affordable housing developments.

Gentrification is a loaded word.  It typically connotes a rise in property values in a traditionally low-income neigborhood.  Wealthier people move in.  Those who’ve lived there and are already struggling to pay bills from month to month can no longer afford to live there due to rising rents and property taxes. 

 Affordable Housing is an equally loaded – and according to the old-school understanding of it -- stigmatized term.  It used to mean public housing and conjure images of an economically depressed neighborhood.  But the conversation around affordable housing – how it contributes to the economic health of area, what it actually means, and how policy makers, nonprofits, and developers can create more of it – is evolving. 

It was 2016 that the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County pulled together an Ad Hoc Committee on Affordable Housing to conduct what they call "a comprehensive examination of workforce/affordable housing efforts, along with the demand for and supply of such housing, and recommend the best practices that would be most appropriate to improve and increase the stock of available workplace housing in this region."

Today, we’re going to hear about the committee’s recommendations, where they are in the policy pipeline, and what local stakeholders think about gentrification and affordable in the Cape Fear region.


Toronya Ezell, Executive Director of AMEZ, a local nonprofit that seeks to provide decent housing for low- to moderate- income families through housing programs and as well as education and human development. 

Jody Wainio, Owner / Broker, Buyers Choice Realty; Chair of the Wilmington / New Hanover County Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee.

Dave Spetrino, President of PBC Design and Build, a local, custom home builder that focuses on residential real estate in and around Wilmington.  He also served on the Affordable Housing Ad Hoc Committee.

Rachel hosts and produces CoastLine, an award-winning hourlong conversation featuring artists, humanitarians, scholars, and innovators in North Carolina. The show airs Wednesdays at noon and Sundays at 2 pm on 91.3 FM WHQR Public Media. It's also available as a podcast; just search CoastLine WHQR. You can reach her at rachellh@whqr.org.
Rachel is a graduate of UNCW's Master of Public Administration program, specializing in Urban and Regional Policy and Planning. She also received a Master of Education and two Bachelor of Arts degrees in Political Science and French Language & Literature from NC State University. She served as WHQR's News Fellow from 2017-2019. Contact her by email: rkeith@whqr.org or on Twitter @RachelKWHQR