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Commissioners commit the last of county's $22.8M rescue plan award

Committing the last of $22.8 million in American Rescue Plan money Henderson County received, the Board of Commissioners agreed to appropriate $1.5 million to cover the cost of running water and sewer lines to an affordable housing community off Sugarloaf Road.

Commissioners said it was appropriate to spend the last of the ARP money on affordable housing, which is widely regarded as one of the most urgent needs for working families priced out of the county's inflated housing market. The average cost of a home has reached $450,000 and only 16 percent of homes currently on the market are listed for under $300,000, Ashlyn McCoy, the Housing Assistance Corp.'s executive director, told commissioners Monday night.

The water and sewer lines from the city of Hendersonville utility system would serve Apple Ridge, a proposed development of 60 apartments and 20 single-family homes. Not having to borrow $1.5 million for the water and sewer line extension means that the cost of the single-family homes will be substantially lower, HAC says.

Apartment rent is projected to range from $329 to $1,033. Although it did not win approval for tax credit financing from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency this year, HAC plans to apply again next year, McCoy said.

The single-family homes are expected to sell to qualified families for $229,000. HAC is using a USDA loan to construct the homes and using its Self Help and New Homes programs to get them occupied by qualified applicants.

Commissioner Daniel Andreotta wanted the county to commit to half the total and call on the Hendersonville City Council to cover the other half. County Manager John Mitchell said he had spoken to City Manager John Connet but had not gotten a commitment.

“I’m disappointed that the city has met (since commissioners first suggested the cost-sharing) and I was hoping they would be on board with the idea," Andreotta said.

Commissioner Rebecca McCall made the motion to allocate $1.5 million for the utility extension. If the City Council agreed to cover half the cost, the county would get half its appropriation back.

"I think we all agree we would like to use that extra money for a good project that can be easily followed and reported back" to the U.S. treasury, she said. "This one makes it very clean for accountability.”