The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Friday August 12th

Winmore May Be Too Expensive for Employees

Winmore is a 62-acre satellite tract of the Horace Williams tract that the UNC Board of Trustees voted March 28 to sell to Winmore developers.

The project will combine residential and retail space for residents.

Although the mixed-use project is expected to include houses and apartments, only the apartments are designed to be affordable for employees of the town of Carrboro, UNC and UNC Hospitals.

Developer Phil Szostak said that while the definite price for the rental units has not yet been set, the range will be from $400 to $500 per month.

This rate is calculated based on a Carrboro ordinance that limits the yearly rent for affordable housing to less than 12 percent of the median income level for a family of four in the Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill area.

The median income for residents in the Triangle is $46,000, although the same figure for Orange County residents is $41,169. Under the ordinance, the rent could not be set higher than $460 a month.

The ordinance also stipulates that the rental apartments must be affordable for at least the next hundred years.

Although the houses at Winmore are not specifically targeted to be affordable, Szostak said the houses at the lower end of the price range at Winmore might be affordable to lower-income government employees with the assistance of a state financing program.

But Szostak said the prices of these houses probably will escalate quickly.

"The homes range from $132,000 to $175,000, but if you buy one, the price will escalate as the property value escalates," Szostak said.

These prices contrast with other affordable housing options.

The average Habitat for Humanity house sells for about $46,000 and comes with a no-interest loan, though it requires an application.

Mark Chilton of EmPOWERment Inc., a local affordable housing organization, said that although he's excited about the development, he has a few concerns.

One of the issues Chilton noted was that 40 percent of UNC Hospitals employees make below $30,000 yearly.

A typical mortgage ranges from the standard 2 1/2 times the annual income to four times the annual income for those with good credit.

"At best they could get up to a $120,000 loan, but they would have to have a combined family income of about $55,000 to get a house in Winmore," Chilton said.

Chilton said he also is concerned about wealthy, unmarried individuals taking advantage of the lower-priced property.

"Are those houses really going to go to families and not some single individual making a lot of money?" Chilton asked.

"I haven't seen how we can be assured it will end up in the right hands."

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