GREENSBORO, North Carolina — The Greensboro Housing Coalition's annual Housing Summit is bringing together community members and leaders to discuss concerns and solutions to problems some say they're facing in the greater Greensboro area.
2018 proved to be a year where several housing concerns rose to the spotlight.
In May, five children were killed in an apartment fire at 3100 Summit Ave. The cause of the fire was ruled accidental cooking, but an inspection of the apartment afterward found the unit had no working smoke detectors. In the days following, the City of Greensboro found more than 800 code violations on the property, including electrical, sewage and mold problems.
The topic of a connection between asthma and poor housing conditions also came up at the summit.
The former Avalon Trace apartments, now called Cottage Gardens under new ownership, was central to a UNCG study that connected health risks such as asthma to the property after analyzing data from the property and Cone Health.
The new owner of the Cottage Gardens apartments says she used loans from the City of Greensboro, Community Developing Lenders, the Greensboro Housing Coalition and her own money to make necessary upgrades to the apartment complex.
"I think a lot of people wouldn’t want to do it and I’m excited by the challenge," explains Brittaney Kielhurn.
Kielhurn says they're still working to fix up some of her 176 units, but they are all leased out. There's 70% occupancy while they continue to make daily repairs to get the other units back up to code as soon as possible. She says the urgency sheds a light on just how high the demand for safe, affordable housing is in the City.
"It says that there’s not enough of it."
There was also talk of communities impacted by the April 2018 tornado. Many of the homes have been repaired, others are under repair. Some are slated to be demolished, while others already have been.
The Greensboro Housing Coalition worked to help several families relocate after the storm.
"There were 50 or so families that we worked with over a couple of months to try and get them relocated and it was amazingly hard for those families to go and find new places to live because the supply," explains Brett Byerly, Executive Director of the Greensboro Housing Coalition. "It really tuned us in at the housing coalition, we see it every day."
Byerly says they ran into the same issue trying to relocate families from the Summit Ave. apartments. After issuing code violations, the City wound up condemning the units in August after the property owner, Arco Realty, failed to fix the problems. The City said Arco Realty was still in the process of fixing some units in February 2019, after several missed deadlines from the City.
After a drive by the property Wednesday, WFMY News 2 saw that some parts of the property were still under repair.
Last month, WFMY News 2 uncovered Arco Realty owes the City of Greensboro almost $650,000 in fines for code violations on various different properties from 2014-2018.
According to City records, Arco Realty hasn't paid a dime of that and the City says there's nothing the Collections Department can really do about it.