Chatham County approves loan to affordable housing developer for 72 units

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PITTSBORO — The Chatham County Board of Commissioners approved a low-interest loan April 18 to affordable housing developer Wallick Communitiesfor 72 units of income-restricted housing.

Wallick Communities, an Ohio-based affordable housing developer, was selected in 2019 through a county request for proposal (RFP) process, and in 2021 by the state housing finance agency to receive federal 9% low-income housing tax credits. Wallick plans to develop a 15.14-acre portion of land behind Chatham Hospital for the Oak View at Siler City development. Oak View will include 72 units, 1-, 2-, and 3-bedrooms, serving households earning 60% of the Area Median Income and below.

The federal low-income housing tax credit or LIHTC program, is the single largest developer of affordable housing in the country. In North Carolina, this program is administered by the North Carolina Housing Finance Agency. The process for housing credits is extremely competitive. Over 100 applications for tax credits and tax-exempt bonds were received in 2021, but only 35 were selected.

“It has been really exciting to work with county staff, town of Siler City, the Wallick development team, members of the affordable housing advisory committee, and Chatham County commissioners to bring these critically needed 72 units to our community,” said Stephanie Watkins-Cruz, Chatham County’s policy analyst.

The public support being provided to this project is contingent on the development’s successful closing this summer and the provision of LIHTC compliant affordable units. Construction will begin in the coming months after closing, and all 72 units are required to be online by December 31, 2023.

“This is not something any one group can accomplish alone, and this is one of many successful models that we can participate in and support in order to address the affordable housing need in Chatham County,” Watkins-Cruz said.

Affordable Housing is generally defined as housing in which the occupant(s) are paying no more than 30 percent of their gross income for housing costs (rent or mortgage), including utilities (Department of Housing and Urban Development, HUD). The most recent gap analysis shows that 2,325 affordable rental units are needed in Chatham County (2021 AHAC Annual Update) an increase from 1,995 units in 2018.

For more information about the specifics of this project, affordable housing data, policies, and programs in Chatham County, individuals may contact Stephanie Watkins-Cruz at stephaniew.cruz@chathamcountync.gov or Erika Brown, Housing Program Manager with Triangle J Council of Governments (TJCOG) at ebrown@tjcog.org.

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