With the anticipated rent increase, they were facing monthly payments of $1,100 if they signed a year-long lease and even more if they went month-to-month.
Priolo said the process of finding a new home was a “mad dash” but their real estate agent was able to put the $155,000, 1,500-square-foot home on Third Street Court SW on their radar.
The couple will soon be closing on the house that will serve as the home for them and their 10-month-old son.
Their new home is one of six newly constructed affordable homes built as part of a partnership between the city of Hickory and Charlotte-based JRN Development.
Leaders from the city joined with company representatives and homeowners to celebrate the completion of the new subdivision, known as Ridgefield Place, on Wednesday.
Last October, the city agreed to sell six city-owned pieces of property on Third Street Court and Third Street Place SW to JRN for $18,000. JRN representative Chris Younger said the city also waived utility connection fees.
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Younger estimates they had 20 inquiries in the first 48 hours after the homes were listed.
“We did not allow bidding wars,” Younger said. “It was a first-come, first-qualify type scenario.”
The houses were only available to people earning below 80% of the area median income, which is $53,900 for a family of four.
The homes, which are mostly in the 1,500- to 1,700-square-foot range, have all been sold for between $155,000 and $168,000.
The homes have deed restrictions limiting the amount of the selling price for 15 years. That’s to ensure the homes remain in an affordable price range even if they are sold.
‘A little breathing room’
The new residents of the community, many if not all of whom are young couples or single parents with young children, were excited for the chance provided by the community.
Priolo called it a “life-changing opportunity.” While he said he would now be paying the same amount for his mortgage that he would be paying in rent, he also pointed to the upside of being able to have a place to call his own.
“I’ll be able to fix things myself and not think that I’m just doing it for some other person,” Priolo said.
For some new residents, the houses in Ridgefield Place will be their first homes in Hickory.
Philip and Samantha Manche moved from Boone after finding a lack of suitable options in the mountain town.
“We want to grow a family and this is a great family town and a great area,” Samantha Manche, 21, said. The couple welcomed a child into the family less than three weeks ago.
They said stability was important for them.
“Since we’ve been married, we’ve had very transitional housing from apartments to kind of Airbnbs and living with family, kind of figuring out where to live,” Philip Manche, 23, said. “So we’re so excited to have a place that we can make our roots and be a part of this community.”
Shontabia Belton, 27, is another newcomer to Hickory. She moved from Charlotte with her 6-year-old son because of the lack of affordable housing.
Without the opportunity provided by the program, she said she likely would not have been able to afford a home of her own. Not without an immense amount of stress, at least.
“This gives me a little breathing room,” Belton said.
Keep it going
The Hickory Affordable Housing Initiative that helped establish Ridgefield Place began in 2020.
At that time, the city partnered with the Unifour Consortium housing program and Western Piedmont Council of Governments to build two units in the same neighborhood that now includes Ridgefield Place.
The first two houses have already been sold.
At the gathering on Wednesday, representatives of both the city and JRN said they were interested in finding ways to keep the program going.
“We’re not in the business of owning vacant lots,” Hickory Mayor Hank Guess said, adding the city would continue to look for places where affordable houses could be built.
Kevin Griffin is the city of Hickory reporter at the Hickory Daily Record.