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First tenants move into Bertie County Schools workforce housing

Credit: iStock

by Greg Childress, NC Newsline
July 3, 2024

The first tenants of a new 24-unit housing complex for public school and local government employees in Bertie County began to move in this week.

Bertie County Schools officials hope the housing complex will help recruit and retain effective teachers. The district had the second highest attrition rate in the state during the 2021-22 school year, according to the most recent data available. Its attrition rate was 25.8%, meaning one in four teachers left the district.

The State Employee Credit Union (SECU) provided Partners for Bertie County Public Schools (PBCPS) with interest-free construction financing and 15-year interest-free permanent financing of $3.1 million to build Dream Pointe Apartments.

PBCPS is a nonprofit created to provide for Bertie County Schools.

“Dream Pointe allows us to offer new teachers and teachers who work in our community but don’t live here an exciting opportunity to become full members of the community where they are employed,” PBCPS board Chairman Ron Wesson said in a statement. SECU District Senior Vice President James Eure (left) with Partners for Bertie County Public Schools Board Chair Ron Wesson.

The initiative is one of six the SECU Foundation has taken on since 2006 in response to workforce needs in rural and underserved areas of North Carolina. Previous housing projects in Hertford, Dare, Hoke, and Buncombe counties received similar financing assistance from SECU Foundation.

“We are so pleased to help the Partners for Bertie County Public Schools take major steps forward in addressing their longtime priority of attracting and retaining teachers,” said SECU Foundation Director of Grants Administration Scott Southern. “Dream Pointe Apartments will not only meet an immediate housing need, but it will also support the continued growth and development of Bertie County.”

BCS Superintendent Otis Smallwood told NC Newsline in March that Dream Pointe will house as many as 40 teachers when it opens in July. Apartments will go to teachers with the greatest needs.

“The next challenge [after the local teacher supplement] was we knew teachers needed a place to stay,” Smallwood said. “We knew our attrition rate was high, well above the state average … and we knew our bigger challenge in rural, northeastern North Carolina is housing.”

A recent report by the North Carolina Housing Coalition shows that 50% of renters in Bertie County have difficulty affording their homes. A person would need to earn $17.38 an hour to afford the $904 monthly fair market rent in the low-wealth county. Fair market rent has increased 17% since last year and 33% over the last five years. Dream Pointe apartments will rent for $800 a month.

NC Newsline is part of States Newsroom, a nonprofit news network supported by grants and a coalition of donors as a 501c(3) public charity. NC Newsline maintains editorial independence. Contact Editor Rob Schofield for questions: info@ncnewsline.com. Follow NC Newsline on Facebook and X.