CoastLine: Affordable Housing Lessons From Asheville

Oct 11, 2019

Affordable housing.  It’s a phrase that towns and cities are attempting to define – and it’s a sector of the real estate market that local leaders are struggling to foster.  

In the Cape Fear region, the City of Wilmington and New Hanover County approved an agreement over the summer to establish a joint Workforce Housing Advisory Committee.  It’s a permanent body.  But even in the June discussion to sanction that committee, commissioners debated the definition of workforce housing. 

Former New Hanover County Workforce Housing Planner Julia Santure recently defined cost-burdened households as those spending more than 30% of their income on housing.  In New Hanover County alone, about 45% of renters are cost-burdened, says Santure.  Compare that to about 24% of owners.   Statewide, 44% of renters in the state are cost-burdened; nationally, the number jumps to 47%.

Paul D’Angelo is Community Development Program Director for the City of Asheville.  But his work at the other end of the state is relatively new.  He left his position as director of affordable housing at Tribute Properties in Wilmington early last year.  So he brings a working knowledge of the Cape Fear region – along with more than a year-a-half of experience in Asheville – a city that, arguably, is ahead of Wilmington on its affordable housing quest.   He's with us to explore what’s working in Asheville – a city often compared to Wilmington.

Brunswick County Habitat for Humanity is accepting applications for their home ownership program. To get an application, residents of Brunswick County can visit the office in Southport  at 4578 Long Beach Road, or visit any one of our three thrift stores in Leland, Southport, and Ocean Isle, or online at