When Tim Cates moved into his apartment at Greenfield Place in Chapel Hill last January, it was the first time he'd had a roof over his head in more than a year.
Cates had been homeless, but Chapel Hill's latest foray into affordable housing has been a godsend to him and his neighbors.
Cates said getting an apartment at Greenfield Place saved his life. "It has given me peace," he said. "It means so much."
Greenfield Place, which opened in January, has 80 apartments. They filled in less than three months, and the waiting list has more than 70 families.
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Sharon Crawford moved from an apartment in Durham to the Chapel Hill community. She has two children in school, and she said the difference was incredible.
"It's so much quieter than Braggtown," Crawford said of her former apartment complex. "I came here to get away from all of that. It's a good place to live. I wanted something different for my kids. I praise God that I am here."
Saturday marked the grand opening and dedication of the community, which was built on town land near Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery. Units are reserved for residents whose households earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, or $48,360 for a family of four in Orange County. Rents range from $271 to $870 depending on the number of bedrooms and household income.
Greenfield Place has one-, two- and three-bedroom apartments that range in size from 691 to 1,196 square feet. The units have walk-in closets, full-size washer and dryer connections and open floor plans. The complex also has a playground, gazebo, grill and a clubhouse with a kitchen, business center and gathering space.
The second phase of the project — the 69-unit Greenfield Commons — is being built for adults 55 and older.
Congressman David Price, a Chapel Hill Democrat, spoke at the event. "We've seen in our area just phenomenal growth, and with that growth has come higher housing costs," he said. "Gentrification has come to the Triangle, and we need to address it and the housing crisis. It's a particular challenge in Chapel Hill because there are not too many parcels of land like this left."
Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said Greenfield Place was a collaborative effort among Chapel Hill, Orange County, the N.C. Housing Finance Agency and partners in the private sector. DHIC built the community for about $12.8 million. The neighborhood is located near shopping and other community amenities, including transit service.
Carrboro has begun exploring affordable housing options too. A recent survey of town-owned properties identified three that would be suitable for affordable housing. The town is raising its property tax rate a half-cent in each of the next three years to provide funding for affordable housing programs.
Carrboro Alderwoman Bethany Chaney said she would like to see more affordable housing in town. "Whatever we can do to chip away at affordable housing, we want to do," she said.