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HUD halts Driftwood Apartments sale, pending review

Updated: Feb. 12, 2021 at 4:26 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has halted the sale of the Driftwood Apartments, which provided housing to some of the most vulnerable in the Wilmington community.

A spokesperson for HUD said the federal agency notified the nonprofit group, Wilmington Housing Finance and Development, on Friday to cease with the sale of the apartments and the relocation of its residents “until such time that HUD may properly review details of the pending sale and clarity on the relocation of current residents.”

RELATED: ‘Every person on city council was incensed,’ Mayor shares concerns over Driftwood sale.

The nonprofit will have to address these concerns in writing by Feb. 18.

“While HUD was notified of the intent to sell the property, there are stipulations that were not fully addressed regarding low-income HUD funding commitments through 2025 and proposed actions concerning current residents,” the spokesperson said in a statement regarding the sale.

Driftwood is a 14-unit community built for the chronically homeless and people living with mental illness. On January 4, residents were sent a letter notifying them they would be displaced at the end of January and the buildings were going to be put on the market.

In the past several weeks, advocates, non-profit leaders and even the city’s mayor have shared their concerns over the proposed sale and the notice given to Driftwood’s residents.

“I am pleased to hear that HUD has intervened in the Driftwood sale for now. The city will continue to advocate for these residents and do what it can to assist in the matter,” Mayor Bill Saffo stated in an email Friday evening.

RELATED: Advocates fight to save housing development for Wilmington’s most vulnerable

Established 16 years ago, Driftwood is a tax credit project, and after so many years, leaders at the nonprofit that manage the property say it couldn’t continue.

“Due to circumstances beyond our control, this property is being sold. All tenants are being displaced,” the Jan. 4 letter sent to residents stated. “We are working closely with the tenants to ensure that they are able to find adequate housing.”

Betty Bisbee, the executive director at Wilmington Housing Finance and Development, told WECT last month that tax credit projects normally have a lifespan of 10-15 years and over the last few years, the money they’ve collected each month for rent hasn’t covered all the expenses.

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