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Anyone who has closely followed the news during 2019 knows that builders are in varying stages of adding about 450 new apartment units in Haywood County.

No doubt the apartments are needed, but none in the works are anything close to what could be considered an “affordable” living option.

True, the $650-$750 units now occupied in the county could be vacated once the newer, higher costs apartments in Plott Creek, Allens Creek and elsewhere become available. But, those who work to create more affordable housing opportunities also know that a number of the rentals in Haywood don’t provide much of a value for the price.

Even for families in need of a starter home, places under $175,000 are hard to come by. That’s what makes the Mountain Projects affordable housing initiative such a winner.

Dubbed Smoky Mountain Housing Partnership, the effort will build 35 homes in the Bethel Village subdivision. These two-to-three bedroom homes will hopefully be sold for under $170,000 and will be for workforce housing — families of teachers, law enforcement officers, nurses or firefighters who often struggle to afford a home of their own.

An integral part of the new division of Mountain Projects will be to work with financial institutions, others who provide workforce housing and various government agencies that focus on housing efforts.

Mountain Projects Auxiliary is working to grow a $500,000 fund to begin building the first three homes and provide the needed staff to oversee construction and start the financial counseling component.

There may also be a smaller focus on tiny homes for single adults such as veterans or the elderly that can be built for even less.

The effort fills a much-needed niche in Haywood County by providing an affordable option for long-time residents who are simply being forced out of the market because of outside market pressure.

To learn more about the effort, contact Mountain Projects at 452-1447.

Lend a hand

Legacy donations of $25,000 offer a chance to have an impact in a very meaningful way, said Don McGowan, who heads up the organization’s affordable housing task force.

Once roughly half of the needed funds are raised, corporate, government and foundation grants will be sought.

Send donations to Mountain Projects, Inc., 2177 Asheville Road, Waynesville, NC 28786.

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