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Family farmers call for tougher CAFO regulations in Farm Bill; The Midwest and Northeast brace for record high temperature in heatwave; Financial-justice advocates criticize crypto regulation bill; Ohio advocates: New rules strengthen protections for sexual-assault victims.

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Rural North Carolina town gets pathway to homeownership

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Tuesday, April 23, 2024   

Residents in a rural North Carolina town grappling with economic challenges are getting a pathway to homeownership.

In Enfield, the average annual income is about $25,000, while the average home price in the state exceeds $300,000. The significant gap between income and housing costs makes homeownership unattainable for many residents.

Mondale Robinson, mayor of Enfield, said it is an issue with which he is all too familiar, having grown up in the town. He acknowledged the dire housing conditions faced by many residents.

"Housing there is third-world," Robinson asserted. "And I know that term is not politically correct, but I use it intentionally to remind people that while we may be in the so-called richest country in the world, my people are suffering from houses that are killing them."

He pointed out many people in the town are living things like severe mold or failing foundations. Recognizing the challenges posed by limited resources both on a town and federal level, Robinson explained he is tackling the issue by forming partnerships with construction firms and lending institutions. He noted through the Horizon Project, they aim to build energy-efficient homes priced affordably at about $105,000.

Robinson highlighted historically, the majority of Black residents there have been marginalized from experiencing positive changes in their neighborhoods. He explained previous investments focused on constructing homes that were unaffordable for the community. Robinson expressed optimism the initiative will serve as a foundation for achieving long-term equality and stability.

"We had a qualification seminar where we brought people in to see if they qualify for homes," Robinson recounted. "Of those 400 people that showed up, 174 already prequalified and have already started ordering their model homes and on the process to become homeowners."

He added families who qualify will receive smart homes with two to four bedrooms, an opportunity most people living on an hourly wage in the town would not have had access to.

In addition to the housing aspect of the project, Robinson emphasized the importance of economic development and sustainability. He said they will offer training to help new homeowners maintain their property.

He stressed another major part of the Horizon project is meant to help promote growth in the town and return ownership to the people who live there.

"When all of these new houses pop up in this rural space, we know what's to follow, businesses to follow," Robinson projected. "Also, we're looking for the mental victory that folk feel when they've purchased a home, alleviating the fact that you have a landlord that is not concerned with how your health is affected by the house you're living in."

By addressing housing affordability and promoting economic empowerment, Robinson hopes the Horizon Project will serve as a blueprint for similar initiatives across North Carolina and beyond. Qualified families will move into new homes by June, while ongoing support aims to assist others in future qualification.


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