ASHEVILLE - Buncombe County school board members Thursday got a look inside one of the 24 apartments that are part of a new teacher housing apartment complex near Erwin High School.
The new complex is slated to open later this year. It will provide a more affordable housing option for Buncombe County and Asheville City teachers. School officials say it will be an important recruiting tool.
“I think it will be key to be able to have this opportunity for teachers because we’ve had a lot of applicants not come to Buncombe because of the housing situation,” said Jason Miller, an assistant principal at Eblen Intermediate School.
Miller said one teacher at his school is interested in moving to the complex to save money and time on her daily commute. “She is very interested,” he said.
Cynthia Lopez, human resources director with Buncombe County Schools, said more than 20 teachers have expressed interest in renting one of the apartments. Eighteen of the units are earmarked for county teachers. The rest will be available to Asheville City teachers.
The apartments have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and they are 1,100-square-feet.
The 24-unit project is a partnership between Eblen Charities, Asheville and Buncombe County schools, Buncombe County and the State Employees' Credit Union Foundation.
The foundation provided a $2.7 million no-interest loan. Buncombe County provided the land. MSD did $100,000 in infrastructure upgrades at no cost, according to Bill Murdock, executive director of Eblen Charities.
“This is a whole community project,” Murdock said.
After the loan is repaid, the proceeds will benefit Eblen’s education-related programs, Murdock said. “As the note gets paid off, all the money will come back to Eblen. We’re going to use that for our education programs,” he said.
Buncombe County School Superintendent Tony Baldwin believes more communities will be investing in this type of project.
“I think we’re going to see this across the state,” he said.