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Housing Hard to Come By in Triangle

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Large houses are plentiful in Warren County, but there is very little rental property
RALEIGH — You land a good job and then you find out there's no place to stay.Housing in the Triangle is becoming hard to find for many people moving tothe area.

Mary Shearin is happy to have a job. She is a single mom who works atWarren County's new prison. However, Shearin drives a long way to workbecause she can't find affordable housing in Warren County.

"There was not a whole lot of rentals," said Shearin. "There's a lot atLake Gaston but nothing I can afford."

People in Warren County are proud of the development the county is seeing.The new prison and a new strip mall has given the county $50 million worthof industrial development since the fall of 1995.

"But what we're really missing out of all of this is good affordablehousing," said Allen Kimball, economic development director.

In Warren County, there are plenty of grand old homes, but they'reexpensive. Rental property is virtually extinct. Builders said they'rereluctant to break ground on low-cost homes because more expensive homesmean more profit. Also, the median income for a family of three in WarrenCounty is $29,000.

"The biggest concern we have is how many houses we can build and how fastwe can sell them and move them," said Dudley Williams, builder.

Prison employee Mac Booker said he'd move his wife and three children intoWarren County if he could only find an affordable house.

"Everyone has to come in together and say let's build somethinghere, let's build up the area," said Booker.

Until that happens, it will likely mean long hours and long commutes.

Warren County is also upgrading its sewer and water system, and is addingnatural gas lines. That could attract more businesses, but doesn't solvethe housing problem.

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