Craven Habitat for Humanity asks for Eubanks St. home, property for new development

A home and adjacent property on Eubanks Street in New Bern is under consideration for a possible Habitat for Humanity housing development.

Habitat for Humanity of Craven County has requested the donation of a Eubanks Street home and adjacent property that the organization says would be ideal for a new “cluster” housing development. 

Tracey Lilly, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Craven County, appeared before the New Bern Redevelopment Commission at their July 12 meeting to request that the board donate a house located at 911 Eubanks Street as well as two properties directly across the street. Both the home and the land are owned by the Redevelopment Commission.

Lilly said Habitat is also seeking a third, 19 x 98 foot “sliver” property in the same area that is owned jointly by the City of New Bern and Craven County. 

According to Lilly, Habitat already has potential homeowners ready to move into the 911 Eubanks Street residence. She said the adjacent properties would also be ideal for newly constructed Habitat houses if all three lots can be obtained.

“We’re asking if it would be possible to get all three of those properties so we can build either two, two-bedroom homes or we may be able to build a three bedroom and a four bedroom home,” Lilly told the board. 

The donation of the properties would help address the surge in residents seeking homes through Craven Habitat for Humanity. While the organization normally sees three or four prospective homeowners during their bi-annual homeownership session, Lilly said this year more than 40 people showed up for the events. 

After going through Habitat’s application and interview process, Lilly said nine families had been chosen as possible homeowners.

“These are nine families that are in need today for homes. The problem is we don’t have enough in our inventory right now,” Lilly said. “A lot of our current properties are in the flood zone so we’re looking for new properties.”

Habitat currently has two potential homeowners who fit the criteria for the Eubanks Street home, Lilly said one is a single individual and the second is a single person with an older dependent. She said both have already been through the Habitat for Humanity vetting process.

Lilly said the advantage of having as many as three occupied Habitat for Humanity homes beside one another on Eubanks Street is that “building in clusters makes a difference, not only for the street but for the neighborhood. And if we’re able to do that in several different areas then it makes a difference in the community.” 

Lilly noted that building multiple homes in the same area is also preferable for contractors.

“It’s a lot easier getting one contractor there doing three (homes) in one area than going back and forth,” she remarked. “And ultimately we’ve found it’s best for the homeowners because they get to know each other, they’re in the same cohort…They’re there to support each other.”

Asked about a timeline for the work, Lilly estimated the total project could be completed in six months. As an example of similar work , she pointed to three Habitat houses under development on Aycock Street in New Bern’s Pembroke neighborhood. Lilly said one of the homes started in early spring will be closing in August, while the other two are due to close in late fall. She noted that all of the Aycock Street homes are under construction at the same time. 

After RDC Commissioner Steve Strickland asked about the possibility of Habitat purchasing the Eubanks Street property for a nominal amount, Commissioner Sharon Bryant spoke out in favor of donating the land.

“We have nine families out there that need a place to stay,” she commented. “I know money means a lot but we have nine families and this particular area needs to be redeveloped. This is a perfect time to bring Habitat on to have those houses built.”

RDC Commissioner Julius Parham, who sits on the Habitat for Humanity of Craven County Board of Directors, said he was also in favor of Lilly’s request.

“I’m still of the mindset that if we have something and someone wants to develop it, let them develop it,” he commented. “If they can do it in one or two years and put it back on the tax books, that’s pretty good.”

Assistant City Attorney Jaimee Bullock-Mosley informed the board that they could put restrictions on any donated property regarding its use, construction timeliness and other details. The RDC requested that she put together a package of options to present at their next meeting.

By Todd Wetherington, co-editor. Send an email with questions or comments.