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Cumberland officials agree to transfer $2.7 million to affordable housing project

Money would come from sewer project if full Board of Commissioners agrees


Cumberland County should transfer $2.7 million in federal funding from a sewer project to an affordable housing project, officials decided Monday afternoon.

The county Board of Commissioners American Rescue Plan Committee agreed to transfer the funding citing increased construction costs

The committee, which includes Commissioners Glenn Adams, Toni Stewart and Jimmy Keefe, met at the Cumberland County Courthouse. Keefe did not attend.

Adams and Stewart voted to reallocate the $2.7 million from the Shaw Heights sewer project to the Robins Meadow housing project, located in a block bounded by Old Wilmington Road, Campbell Terrace Road, Helpful Drive, and Bravery Lane. Twelve units have been built and 12 more are planned.

The issue will now go before the full Board of Commissioners.

Delores Taylor, the county’s community development director, told committee members the additional $2.7 million is needed to finish the housing project and a resource center.

Taylor said Cumberland County has a shortage of affordable housing, a problem that was heightened when some residents lost their homes because of Hurricane Matthew. Others are at risk of becoming homeless because they lost their jobs.

The state allocated about $2.5 million in Community Block Grant disaster recovery funding to build affordable housing. In June 2020, the county commissioners approved the design of the Robins Meadow project. In October 2020, the county asked for an additional $100,000 in grants for construction and support services. The total budget for the project then rose to $3.01 million.

The project includes 12 additional townhouse apartments and a resource center, according to Taylor. Each unit has three bedrooms and 1½ bathrooms. The apartments range from 1,290 to 1,450 square feet. Two of the units are disability-compliant, she said.

The county sought construction bids, but there were no responses, Taylor told committee members. She added that since the initial approval of funding, construction prices have increased.

“Everything increased drastically during the pandemic,” Taylor said. “The original budget is no longer sufficient to cover the cost to build this housing project, The current projected cost is $285 per square foot.”

Grant guidelines require that the project close the financing gap by Nov. 30, and the county must have a qualified contractor in place by March 20. If the county did not meet those deadlines, it could lose the state grants, according to Taylor.

Taylor told committee members that several contractors have shown interest in bidding on the project.

CityView emailed County Manager Amy Cannon and Assistant County Manager Brian Haney and asked what effect the reallocation of the $2.7 million would have on the Shaw Heights sewer project. Neither responded by deadline.

The proposed reallocation will now be on the agenda for the commissioners’ Monday meeting, Adams said.

Cumberland County, housing, sewer, grants