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New ownership at Jacksonville apt. complex opens conversation about affordable housing

Published: Jun. 21, 2022 at 7:30 PM EDT
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JACKSONVILLE, N.C. (WITN) - Town Center Apartments, a condemned housing development in Jacksonville, is now under new management.

The complex was deemed unsafe for living in 2021, which left residents with no place to go. Now, there may be hope for those that want to stay.

Still, the lack of affordable housing is a topic on the minds of many people right now. Members of the Jacksonville community expressed the challenges attached to affordable housing.

“I was just talking about this with my fiancée. You see mothers out here in their cars doing DoorDash with four kids in the back seat. You just can’t afford a decent place to live,” Jacksonville resident Frank Ortiz said.

Community Investment Group is the name of the group that has bought Town Center Apartments.

“Basically we’re coming in, siding roofs, windows, doors, new electrical plumbing, HVAC,” Community Investment Group’s Brett Reece says.

Reece says all the improvements will take place over the next year on the once-New River apartments and they will also accommodate the needs of residents who may have to leave.

“We are looking at some other properties here in the area that we can do as low income and get people into those places,” Reece says. “We’ve got a program we’re doing up in Virginia where we’re going in and doing motel conversions and turning them into studios and one-bedrooms that does fit that model and we’re looking at some properties here as well to do that.”

Rental experts explain that affordable rentals across the country have become more scarce due to price inflation.

“Right now, we’re looking at about a 25% year-over-year increase for one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments,” Brian Carberry, Rent.com senior managing editor said.

Carberry says prices have increased 26% for a one-bedroom apartment in Jacksonville.

“So what are people doing right now? They’re consolidating households, are moving in with roommates, but are able to split the bills,” Carberry says.

Still, those aren’t options for everyone, which is why updates to affordable housing units like Town Center Apartments provide chances at better living conditions for a group some describe as the backbone of the community.

“Low-income families and single-parent households... they are a big part of our economy because they’re not putting any money away,” Ortiz says. “They’re just trying to make it, all their money is going back into the marketplace.”

Reece says that Community Investment Group has extended the deadline to Nov. 30th for residents to vacate occupied units for renovation.

The property company says it will help current tenants with relocating until the renovation is complete.

Community Investment Group says veterans living at Town Center Apartments will be moved into partially renovated units through the rest of their lease. They’ll then be allowed to apply for new units in the fully renovated apartments once they’re done.

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