The Brunswick beacon. (Shallotte, N.C.) 19??-current, October 07, 1993, Page PAGE 14-A, Image 14
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 quate plumbing. "We are ready to make loans," said Harold Sellars, a senior vice president of United Carolina Bank in charge of the compa ny's Comm unity Reinvest ment Act (CMA) lending program for qualified low income home buyers. SELLARS "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 come tenants. "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 rental units. "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 County." 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 standard hous ing hurts the county's efforts to recruit new industry and im prove education. "If we can show that Brunswick 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 learn." 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 sible cost. "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 tures. 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 room homes. 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 task. "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 $50,000." 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 County. Everett said he plans to research the regional plan and will present his findings to the county commission ers. 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 staff . 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 nity). "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 patients. "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 such care. 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. Home Health Seashore Drugs Calabash ? 579-3200 Rentals & Sales Bath Bars Bath Tub Chairs Elevated Toilet Seats Commode Chairs Walkers Diabetic Supplies Ostomy Supplies Wheelchairs Crutches Quad Canes Medicare, Medicaid plus all your Rx needs. Thomas Drugs Main St., Shallotte ? 754-5228 BRUNSWICK COUNTY'S # 1 NITECLUB MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL on 52" Wide Screen TV TUESDAY-Free Line Dance Lessons 9 WEDNESDAY-Members Appreciation Night ? $1 .00 Off All Mixed Drinks g OPEN MON.-SAT. 6 PM-2 AM.SUN. 1 PM-2 AM^ALL ABC PERMITS f i POOL TABLES HOLDEN BEACH RD. GAME ROOM ? LIVE ENTERTAINMENT HOLDEN BEACH ? RESERVATIONS 842-7070 FRIDAY & SATURDAY Oct. 8 and 9 Brunswick County's Favorite New Band UNDERFIRE Live from Wilmington All ABC Permits ? 842-7070 Reservations Accepted SUNDAY Oct. 10 See NASCAR racing live from Charlotte NC on our wide screen at 1 PM FREE DRAFT BEER Live music starts at 6 PM byCOTTONMOUTH $5 per person ? $1 ,000 in Cash & Prizes "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. Jeffrey Mintz. 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 they'll stay." 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 County. North Carolina State Grange and Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina are names you can trust. Send us this coupon, and our agent will contact you about special programs for Grange Members." ? Individual ? Family Name Address City Stale Zip T eiephone BJue Cross Mail to: Coastal Insurance & Realty 1^1 Vml/ Bue P.O. 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