Housing affordability is important for the people who live and work in our county. One of the goals of the New Hanover County Strategic Plan for 2018-2023 is to encourage the development of complete communities in the unincorporated county by increasing housing diversity in size and price points and access to basic goods and services. Complete communities provide a range of housing sizes and price points, employment opportunities, convenience needs, community facilities, and support services to provide access and opportunity for all New Hanover County citizens. In addition, the New Hanover County Comprehensive Plan calls for a range of housing types, opportunities, and choices to ensure that residents do not become overburdened with the costs or availably of housing.

New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington developed the Joint Workforce Housing Advisory Committee to study affordable and workforce housing, the public’s perception of it, and the gaps that currently exist; and then to develop tangible recommendations for addressing this issue.

Recommendations are designed to address the community’s housing needs by increasing the supply of residential units, retaining our existing affordable housing stock, and increasing residents’ access to those homes.

As the County works to address housing needs, resources have been made available to residents in need of emergency housing assistance. Click here for information and to apply for the Emergency Rental Assistance Program through New Hanover County Health and Human Services.

Click here for City of Wilmington’s housing programs.

A Joint City of Wilmington, New Hanover County Workforce/Affordable Housing Ad hoc Committee was established in 2016 with a mission to recommend practices, policies, and programs to improve and increase the stock of available workforce housing in the region.

The Wilmington City Council and New Hanover County Board of Commissioners met jointly in 2019 to discuss the matter of workforce housing and the recommendations from the Ad hoc Committee’s effort to identify strategies to improve workforce housing in the region. At that meeting, the City and County established a 13-member Workforce Housing Advisory Committee comprised of professionals representing the following communities: Business/Education, REALTORS®, Development, Financial, Non-Profit housing, and the Chair of the Joint Community Relations Advisory Committee.

The Committee was organized for the purpose of developing a comprehensive workforce housing study, workforce housing opinion study and public awareness campaign, support for increasing equitable access and the supply of workforce housing that is affordable; informing the Appointing Authorities and other organizations of their findings; and making recommendations, in an advisory capacity, to the Appointing Authorities and other organizations, as necessary.

The Committee was given the following duties:

  1. To procure a workforce housing study and public opinion study, and conduct a public awareness campaign on the topic of workforce housing.
  2. To recommend, in an advisory capacity, to the Appointing Authority necessary procedures, programs, or policies to promote workforce housing.
  3. To provide the appointing authorities with an annual written report or presentation.
  4. To conduct any other duties as assigned or requested by the governing Boards.

View the full committee list.

New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington retained Bowen National Research for the purpose of conducting a Housing Needs Assessment of New Hanover County. With changing demographic and employment characteristics and trends expected over the years ahead, this study will assist New Hanover County and its citizens in understanding the current market conditions and projected changes that will influence future housing needs.

The Housing Needs Assessment identified the housing needs by affordability and tenure by considering demographic characteristics and trends, economic conditions, existing housing availability, community and migration trends, and quantifiable housing demand estimates.

Housing Needs Assessment

A public opinion survey was developed by the University of North Carolina Greensboro Center for Housing and Community Studies (CHCS) to gather community input about their perceptions and opinions on workforce and affordable housing and the extent of government or other interventions they believe are necessary to address this matter.

Affordable & Workforce Housing – A Public Opinion Study for New Hanover County & the City of Wilmington 

The following programs are dependent on a variety of funding sources and may not be available at all times. Please check with county staff regarding the availability of funding for each program.

Based on the results of the housing study and survey, the Workforce Housing Advisory Committee has developed recommendations for tools and strategies to guide New Hanover County and the City of Wilmington’s efforts in addressing the housing affordability needs of our residents. These recommendations were developed with various key stakeholders (housing finance agencies, housing non-profits, homebuilders, Realtors, etc.) and staff (County and City Planning, Senior Resource Center, etc.) and are based on best practice research from across the country tailored to local needs and authorities.

The Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Program benefits low-to-moderate income households and may assist with neighborhood revitalization, water and sewer infrastructure improvements, and economic development.

New Hanover County is a non-entitlement community. The CDBG program is provided through the NC Department of Commerce, Division of Community Assistance Programs.

Applications for the Workforce Housing Gap Rental Assistance Pilot Program are closed. For questions about this program, please email workforceassistance@nhcgov.com or call 910-798-7180


Even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, over half of renters in New Hanover County were housing cost-burdened, meaning they were spending more than 30% of their income on housing costs, including utilities, insurance, and taxes. Most affordable housing programs focus on serving households making 60% or lower of Area Median Income (AMI), leaving middle-income workers with fewer housing options available to them.

New Hanover County designed the Workforce Housing Gap Rental Assistance Pilot Program to help build stronger neighborhoods and communities by alleviating some of the housing cost burdens. In its second year and under new guidelines, households earning between 60 to 80 percent of the Area Median Income are eligible for the program. Qualified households will be directly provided a $450 reimbursement subsidy per month to compensate for rental costs. 

The Workforce Housing Rental Assistance Pilot Program applications are open through September 30, 2022.


Please note this program provides monthly rental assistance for qualified applicants earning between 60% and 80% of the area median income for a one-year lease period. Assistance with other housing expenses including repairs, taxes, utility, and other costs are not eligible for this program. Households who have previously received American Rescue Plan funds through the Emergency Rental Assistance Program are not eligible for this program.

For questions about the program, please contact Rachel LaCoe rlacoe@nhcgov.com.

Housing discrimination is Prohibited by Law. View the public notice »

Housing discrimination complaints can be made online on the US Department of Housing and Urban Development website.

More information regarding fair housing can be found on the NC Department of Administration website.

Fair Housing Act

Water and Sewer Revolving Loans are zero-percent interest loans for water and sewer infrastructure improvements in low-income households.

  • Only properties within unincorporated New Hanover County are eligible.
  • Loan terms are 5 to 10 years depending on circumstances.
  • Maximum loan amount is $4,000.
  • Eligibility depends on household income and results of a credit check.
  • For questions, please contact Rachel LaCoe at rlacoe@nhcgov.com or 910-798-7442.
Planning and Land Use: 230 Government Center Dr, Suite 110 • Wilmington, NC 28403 • Phone 910-798-7165 • Fax 910-798-7053
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