This story is part of an ongoing anniversary series on Hurricane Florence, which struck in September 2018, and the storm’s lingering effects on Carteret County and its residents.

BEAUFORT — Officials with the Beaufort Housing Authority have expressed a desire to expand their offerings, though doing so might take some time.

This is according to Tara Timblin, executive director of the Beaufort Housing Authority.

For the past year, housing, particularly affordable housing, has been a point of concern for county and town officials and residents alike. Hurricane Florence, which struck in September 2018, devastated and displaced people throughout the area.

After the storm, a number of apartment complexes kicked out their tenants in order to affect repairs. It was during this time, when many were scrambling for places to live, that the scope of the county’s housing issue become apparent. Droves of families weren’t able to find additional housing and, a year later, that outlook hasn’t changed.

The town of Beaufort recently finalized a land transaction that could lead to additional workforce housing along Live Oak Street, but that project, just like the Beaufort Housing Authority’s attempt to construct additional living units, is some time off.

Currently there are 100 authority housing units in town, including on the corners of Legion and 2nd streets and Broad, Queen, Craven and Turner streets, according to Ms. Timblin. These units range from single-person homes to multi-family.

“They are mostly duplexes,” Ms. Timblin said. “We have one to four bedroom units and we have just a couple of five bedroom units that are standalone. The rest are attached or side-by-side.”

Access to the authority units is based on income and successful completion of a background check, according to Ms. Timblin.

“Once they fill out an application, they go through … an interview and approval process,” she told the News-Times.

The Beaufort Housing Authority is subject to oversight from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. An applicant can’t be given access to a unit if they owe money to another housing authority, based on HUD rules.

The cost for housing is usually 30% of the household income.

Ms. Timblin said there is a particular need for single units in town, as shown by the organization’s waiting list.

“As soon as units are available, we start calling from the top of the list until we find someone who is ready and willing to move in,” Ms. Timblin said, adding that her organization is one of the primary sources of affordable housing in Beaufort.

“There are a couple of others, like Carteret Courts, which I believe is a Section 8 program,” Ms. Timblin said. “We are, I think, probably the only public housing operation in Beaufort and we’ve (been) around since 1968.”

The Beaufort Housing Authority is allowed to make preferences based on if an applicant is elderly, disabled or already a town resident. However, during the aftermath of last year’s storm, HUD allowed them to give preference to county residents displaced by Florence.

“We did have some folks that were affected by the storm,” Ms. Timblin said. “We did have a displaced preference, so anyone that didn’t have housing got a preference. We were able to overlook some of the debt and things like that (that) normally we would not be able to overlook that. However, we didn’t have that many. It didn’t greatly affect the waiting list, but we did have several (move in.)”

Ms. Timblin said the authority is at the mercy of the HUD regulations, but it has made it known one of the main things it wants to pursue is additional housing units.

“We have looked into that, we have some vacant property at the end of our 2nd Street area,” Ms. Timblin said. “It’s about 5 or 6 acres … so we have definitely looked into that potential. HUD would determine how much money it would take for us to get started.”

Ms. Timblin said if her organization were to pursue construction of additional units, it would be with federal funds and wouldn’t cost the town of Beaufort.

“(HUD) would dictate the amount of funding we receive,” Ms. Timblin said. “That is definitely something we will be looking at in the future.”

Contact Dean-Paul Stephens at 252-726-7081, ext. 232; email Dean@thenewstimes.com; or follow on Twitter @DeanPEStephens.

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