Wake County hit a major milestone this week when it funded the construction of 288 new affordable housing units in Raleigh, bringing the total to more than 2,500 over the past three years. 

While it’s a promising start in the county’s effort to give people working as cooks and cashiers a place to live, it’s likely not going to be enough to stave off the inevitable. 

As of 2015, Wake County had a deficit of more than 56,000 affordable housing units, according to officials. That gap is expected to increase to 150,000 units by 2035. Just to keep the problem from getting any worse, Wake County needed to add 5,875 units per year—or 17,625 from 2019 to today. 

The county fell far short. 

In total, Wake County funded 2,507 units, a mix of apartments, homes, and permanent supportive housing. That’s only 14 percent of the units needed to meet the overwhelming demand for affordable housing. 

The City of Raleigh is in an even more dire position. As of 2019, Raleigh had a deficit of more than 28,000 rental homes, according to the National Low Income Housing Coalition. Of the units funded by Wake County, 1,817 are Raleigh rentals, only 0.006 percent of the housing needed. 

The better news is that Wake County is making a dent. When the Wake board of commissioners approved the 20-year Affordable Housing Plan in 2017, some doubted the county would meet its goals. This week, however, county commissioners kept their promise and, moreover, finished two years ahead of schedule. 

“Addressing the housing crisis in our county has been a top priority for this board, and I’m elated we’ve met our goal far sooner than originally projected,” commissioner Vickie Adamson in a news release. 

Lorena McDowell, director of the county’s Housing Affordability and Community Revitalization Department, added that the units built “are a clear demonstration of the county’s commitment to affordable housing and the collective work of our department and the local municipalities.

“We’re happy to have reached this goal so early, and today we’re celebrating our successes, but tomorrow our work continues.”

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Follow Staff Writer Jasmine Gallup on Twitter or send an email to jgallup@indyweek.com.