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$50 million housing bond may rebuild Hillcrest

Housing ad-hoc committee

At an ad-hoc meeting on a proposed housing bond this Wednesday, May 26, elected officials made clear promises to do something about housing affordability -- an issue that’s been debated for years without definitive action.

At the previous ad-hoc meeting, public officials decided to bring in stakeholders to hear every detail of how a housing bond could work. Some attendees pulled no punches -- like Katrina Redmon from the Wilmington Housing Authority, who said some of her buildings are 70 years old and desperately need to be replaced. "I have so much lipstick on this pig I don't know what color it is anymore, okay?” Redmon said.

The proposed $50 million housing bond could help solve that problem, by replacing run-down housing projects like Hillcrest with newer, mixed-use buildings with many more units.

Redmon emphasized the need for intermediary housing for current residents, and a contract that includes the right for residents to come back after it’s rebuilt.

Also under discussion: the city and county purchasing a swath of homes, fixing them up, and renting them or selling them to generate a revolving fund for affordable housing.

But private developers had other reforms in mind, too, which would cost a lot less than the proposed $50 million housing bond.

Developer Dave Spetrino said, “this is the time for us to put in place our correct zoning, our correct controls, our correct infrastructure pieces. [...] We have about six months to do that- eight months to do that. But when it comes roaring back, and it will, we're going to be left out in the cold because we're going to be building the most profitable work, not the least profitable work.”

Elected officials heard a lot of ideas, and will bring recommendations to the full city council and county commission at the joint city-county meeting next week.