WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) - Property managers from the Market North housing community have yet to answer WECT’s specific questions on the status of the property. With no evidence of repair work and no permits filed with the county, rumors continue to circulate among former residents that the Market North property will be sold.
“I really think it’s already been sold. And the process, not having the electricity on, and there were already problems with mold and mildew, I think they’re going to have to tear them down and just build up something else,” said Lenore Benbow, former Market North resident and president of the residents council.
Following Hurricane Florence, more than 700 residents were forced to move out of Market North, a subsidized, low-income housing community, due to damages. Now, residents say they feel like property owners used Florence as an excuse to make a profit.
There is no evidence that Market North has been sold at this time, but former residents are speculating that it will be sold and redeveloped into luxury apartments, like the four surrounding the property.
Benbow spent years trying to improve Market North’s reputation and clean up the community. After being forced out following Florence, she found housing in a trailer park and felt there would never be an opportunity to return.
“The reason I’m really upset is because they said we were going to move back in there after six months. This is the sixth month. Nothing has been touched. They said we’re going to move back to brand new apartments, no,” Benbow said.
Others worry The Glenn Apartments, another low-income housing community, will also be sold to developers.
Wilmington City Councilman Clifford Barnett said he is concerned about the future of Market North, and that it brings attention to a larger issue.
“One of the challenges that we have in Wilmington is that we recognize that we do have an affordable housing issue, not only here, but across the country, and Florence has caused us to recognize it even more. There’s a big problem. There are a number of people that are still homeless,” Barnett said.
WECT has heard from residents who have been forced to move as far away as Monroe, NC because they could not secure housing in Wilmington.
“I hope that we recognize that we can put compassion above cash," Barnett said. “It’s an opportunity for people to make money and I understand that, but I really hope that we become a city of more compassion and that we really work on policies and whatever plans we have to do and there are some things we are hoping to do with the county that will help us to really make some places affordable and available for the citizens of Wilmington."
WECT has repeatedly reached out to Brandon Moody, who has not identified what company he works for, but has said he “helps Market North with communications."
Moody has not answered our most recent questions, and has yet to tell us what repair work has been done.