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Downturn means cheaper land for affordable housing

The economic downturn is a double-edged sword for affordable housing advocates.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — The economic downturn is a double-edged sword for affordable housing advocates. The slumping housing market means land prices are cheap enough for them to scoop up development sites, but foreclosures and rising unemployment mean a greater demand for their services.

"Sadly, there's a real need for more affordable housing as we've experienced job loss and the like," said Gregg Warren, president of Downtown Housing Improvement Corp.

The 35-year-old nonprofit has built or purchased 25 apartment complexes across North Carolina and has built or renovated 1,400 homes in Wake County. The housing is all for low-income, elderly or disabled residents, and most houses sell for $125,000 to $175,000.

Brenda High Sanders moved to DHIC's Meadow Creek subdivision in southeast Raleigh about five years ago, buying a house for about $130,000.

"To get the size of house with the amenities that I have inside would cost so much more in some communities," Sanders said.

Warren said DHIC plans to start two more communities by this summer: An 80-unit apartment complex in Cary for seniors and a 41-unit complex in Raleigh for disabled single people.

"There are those folks who are in adjustable rate mortgages who can't perhaps make mortgage payments. There are those who have lost jobs who are looking for more affordable housing," he said. "We can't serve all of it by any means, but we want to try and do our share."


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