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Initiative Seeks To Make More
Affordable Housing Available
BY ERIC CAXLSON
"We have a need," said Thurman
Everett, interim director of the
Brunswick County Public Housing
agency. He estimated that 943
homes in the county are substan
dard, overcrowded or without ade
"We are ready to make loans,"
said Harold Sellars, a senior vice
Bank in charge
of the compa
"So far, we've built or purchased
223 units," said Scott Redinger, ad
ministrator of the Wilmington
Housing Finance Division (WHFD).
a non-profit corporation that makes
affordable housing available to low
income families and elderly persons
on an a limited fixed income.
"Now how do we do that here?"
asked David Mapson. president of
DDS Management Services, inc.
Operating on a shoestring budget,
the group has purchased and reno
vated several homes for needy fami
lies in the Leland area.
Finding an answer to Mapson's
question was foremost on the minds
of those who attended a workshop
on low-income housing initiatives in
Bolivia Monday. The gathering was
put together by Everett, who heads
the agency that makes rental subsi
dies available to about 500 low in
"A child that goes to sleep in
a warm bed wakes up with a
mind that wants to learn. "
? Thurman Everett
The problem, Everett said, is that
there aren't enough homes available
in Brunswick County. Another 300
are on a waiting list for affordable
"We can assist a family with their
rent if they qualify." Everett said.
"But the tenant has to find his own
place and there aren't enough to go
around. There is a dire need for af
fordable housing in Brunswick
While he would like to have more
rental units in the county, Everett
said he would much rather see low
cost affordable housing made avail
able so his clients could purchase
homes of their own. He said the
problem of sub
ing hurts the
to recruit new
industry and im
"If we can
County has ade
quate housing EVERETT
and good education, we will be
more attractive to new businesses,"
he said. "Housing is the key. A child
that goes to sleep in a warm bed
wakes up with a mind that wants to
None of the workshop partici
pants said it would be easy to im
prove the county's housing pro
spects. But no one said that it
couldn't be done.
Rcdinger explained how his orga
nization finds or constructs low-cost
housing, screens low-income appli
cants and negotiates with lenders to
arrange affordable payments. Since
it was formed in 198*7. the WHFD
has found innovative ways to make
housing available at the lowest pos
"We found out that the building
trades program at Cape Fear Com
munity College was using (easily re
movable) double-headed nails so
they could frame up houses and take
them apart again," Redinger said.
"We asked them if instead they
would dry in the houses in exchange
for materials and let us move them
to a lot."
The corporation obtained a grant
and a line of credit from a building
supply company that allowed it to fi
nance the arrangement Now the
community college builds two
homes a year for the WHFD, which
sells them for a SI, 000 profit and us
es the money for new housing ven
In another project, the corporation
accepted a donation of an aban
doned school from the City of
Wilmington. In researching the
deed, the WHFD found that the land
had been platted for 27 buildable
lots. So the corporation demolished
the school and created a subdivision
of affordable two- and three-bed
Sellars told the group his bank
and other North Carolina lenders are
eager to find the right combination
of affordable housing and qualified
low-income borrowers. But in a
tourist-driven economy like Bruns
wick County's, that can be a difficult
"We can find contractors all day
long that want to build $200,000
houses," Sellars said. "It's hard to
find ones that will build houses for
Sellars said federal loan programs
make it both possible and profitable
for banks to offer affordable terms
to qualified low-income borrowers.
He urged the group to "stay with the
initiative" to make low-cost housing
available in Brunswick County.
"Banks haven't lost their minds.
They're not out to give away the
keys to the vault," Sellars said.
"We're going to do it because it's
good business to loan money to peo
ple who can pay it back."
Redinger said the Wilmington
Housing Finance Division is consid
ering a proposal to broaden its effort
into a regional non-profit agency
serving much of southeastern North
Carolina, including Brunswick
Everett said he plans to research
the regional plan and will present his
findings to the county commission
RAISES OF UP TO 20% TO BE GIVEN
Board To Seek $137,000 For Upgrade Of Nursing Program
BY LYNN CARLSON
Citing problems recruiting and re
taining public health nurses, the
Brunswick County Health Board
will ask the county commissioners
to approve a $137,000 program to
add nurses and to give raises of up
to 20 percent to nurses already on
The plan, as outlined by Health
Director Michael Rhodes for the'
next fiscal year, would require about
$17,000 in new county funds.
Rhodes said about $90,000 would
come from existing escrow accounts
serving such programs as Medicaid,
and about $30,000 from "lapsed
salaries," budgeted funds for nursing
positions which have remained un
filled because suitable candidates
could not be found.
Health department staff and the
statewide director of nursing say
Brunswick County public health
nurses are paid considerably less
than their colleagues working for lo
cal hospitals, nursing homes and
home health agencies.
After working with Judith Britt, di
rector of the N.C. Office of Nursing,
Rhodes recommended upgrading the
salaries of the department's public
health nurses by 20 percent, its fami
ly nurse practitioners by 15 percent,
and its licensed practical nurses
(LPNs) by 10 percent.
"We have had no method for re
warding anybody for length of ser
vice or for merit," he said. "A 20
percent increase would not put any
body over (the salaries paid nurses
employed elsewhere in the commu
"Since the 1977-78 budget, there
has been only a 10 percent cost of
living increase for our nursing staff.
Salaries in other agencies have gone
up faster, and (the nurses') workload
has increased along with the popula
tion and the demand for services."
"Recruiting is a real problem" be
cause of the department's salary
ranges, coupled with a requirement
that county employees reside in
Brunswick County, Rhodes said.
"The Cap* F?ar region has an ade
quate pool of nurses, but I'm not sure
Brunswick County does," he added.
His plan would add three full
time licensed practical nurses and
the new administrative position of
nursing director. Licensed practical
nurses are less extensively trained
and are paid less than registered
nurses, but they may perform many
routine nursing procedures, he said.
Public health nurses, who are reg
istered nurses, would be freed from
some clinic duties so that they could
"get out in the field" and better Till
state mandates such as maternity
care coordination. Maternity care
coordination is designed to lower in
fan! mortality by having nurses fol
low up on high-risk patients such as
unwed teenagers, and to work close
ly with other agencies to serve those
"The R.N.'s just aren't available
to do the home visits they need to
do," Rhodes said, claiming the situa
tion costs the department Medicaid
revenue which would have paid for
About seven nursing positions are
currently vacant, he said ? "about
50 percent of our workforce."
Consequently, several planned pro
jects have had to be delayed, includ
ing the Norplant contraceptive im
plant program and a breast/cervical
cancer screening program
Rhodes praised the work of
Nursing Supervisor Victoria Smith,
saying she "does the work of at least
two nurses, maybe three." He said
hiring a nursing director with ad
ministrative training would let Smith
spend more time with patients.
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"That's where she is most valuable
to this county, devoting time as a
practitioner," he said.
The board unanimously endorsed
the proposal, though member Bruce
Quaintance questioned how it would
be funded in future years, and mem
ber Patrick Newton said asking for
the residency requirement to be lift
ed "is barking up a dead tree."
"You can't keep working these
ladies to death," said member Dr.
Member Arthur Knox agreed.
"The bottom line is, we're paying
these ladies too little. If you pay
them, they'll take these jobs and
Board Chairman Maliston Stanley
said, "I felt it was necessary for us as
a board to endorse this concept. We
need to tell people in our districts we
endorse this and that it's important
for them to support us, too."
STAFF PHOTO BY EKIC CARLSON
SCOTT REDINGER, administrator of the Wilmington Housing
Finance Division, displays a drawing of a low-income housing pro
ject now being built by the non-profit organization. He told offi
cials in Bolivia Monday that the group may expand its efforts into
a regional non-profit corporation that would include Brunswick
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