The Housing Summit goals to handle Greensboro’s considerations about inexpensive housing
From an apartment fire that left five children dying of asthma in residential units, 2018 turned out to be a year in which several housing problems came to the fore.
GREENSBORO, North Carolina – The Greensboro Housing Coalition’s annual housing summit brings community members and leaders together to discuss concerns and solutions to problems some say they face in the greater Greensboro area.
2018 turned out to be a year in which several housing companies came into the spotlight.
In May, five children were killed in an apartment fire at 3100 Summit Avenue. Accidental cooking was found to be the cause of the fire, but a subsequent inspection of the apartment revealed that the unit had no working smoke alarms. In the days that followed, Greensboro City found more than 800 regulatory violations on the property, including electricity, sewer and mold problems.
The connection between asthma and poor living conditions was also discussed at the summit.
The former Avalon Trace Apartments, now under new ownership, Cottage Gardens, were the focus of a UNCG study that linked health risks such as asthma to the property after analyzing data from the property and Cone Health.
The new owner of the Cottage Gardens apartments says she used loans from Greensboro City, Community Developing Lenders, the Greensboro Housing Coalition, and her own money to make necessary upgrades to the apartment complex.
“I think many wouldn’t want to do that and I’m looking forward to the challenge,” explains Brittaney Kielhurn.
Kielhurn says they are still working on repairing some of their 176 units, but they are all rented out. Utilization is 70% while daily repairs continue to get the other units back on code as soon as possible. The urgency shows how high the demand for safe and affordable housing is in the city.
“It says there aren’t enough of them.”
It was also spoken by communities affected by the April 2018 tornado. Many of the houses have been repaired, others are under repair. Some are to be demolished, others already.
The Greensboro Housing Coalition helped several families move after the storm.
“There were around 50 families we worked with for a few months to relocate and it was surprisingly difficult for these families to find new homes because of the offer,” said Brett Byerly, executive director, Greensboro Housing Coalition . “We are really taken with the housing coalition, we see it every day.”
Byerly says they ran into the same problem while trying to relocate families from the Summit Avenue apartments. The city condemned the units for code violations in August after property owner Arco Realty failed to fix the issues. The city said Arco Realty was still in the process of repairing some units in February 2019 after the city missed several deadlines.
After driving through the property on Wednesday, WFMY News 2 found that some parts of the property were still under repair.
Last month, WFMY News 2 revealed that Arco Realty owed the city of Greensboro nearly $ 650,000 in fines for code violations on various properties from 2014 to 2018.
According to the city’s records, Arco Realty didn’t pay a penny of it and the city says there is nothing the collections department really can do about it.