AMYWF Brings Workforce Housing to Downtown Spruce Pine

It is no secret one of the biggest concerns in Western North Carolina is housing. Whether it be
lack of housing stock, a lack of affordable housing solutions, homelessness, or the growing burden of aging homes in need of repairs, it is
clear housing solutions rose to the top of the Foundation’s priority list. Recognizing this need,
one of the first grants the Foundation awarded in 2019 was to WAMY Community Action to form a
housing coalition to study and address the unique challenges of creating and maintaining safe,
quality, and affordable housing in our counties. The first objective the coalition
was tasked with was to develop a housing report to understand the housing landscape and how we can
work together to begin to address it. Several important initiatives were identified, one being
repurposing unused existing properties to transform the vacant structures into affordable workforce
housing units.

In the winter of 2022, AMYWF identified a property in downtown Spruce Pine as a potential space for
this purpose and acquired it soon after to transform it into nine affordable apartments. “AMYWF
Wellness Foundation represents the Tri-County area and the lack of affordable housing is one of the biggest challenges in each county.
Avery and Yancey counties are actively building housing complexes while Mitchell County has no
current plans for building a housing complex so when we found out that the Oak Avenue building was
for sale it seemed like a great place for affordable workforce housing, said Starli
McDowell, AMYWF Vice Board Chair. “The building is centrally located above Spruce Pine’s Riverside
Park and within walking or biking distance to the hospital and dental school. These apartments will
help local businesses hire and retain employees and will help the downtown businesses with
increased foot traffic,” she continued. “This and the other housing complexes under construction in
Avery and Yancey counties are still not enough. We need more affordable housing in each county and the AMYWF Wellness Foundation is committed to the needs of the community we serve, and housing is central for residents and businesses to thrive
and grow which is why we are excited about this project as well as supporting home repairs,” Starli

The Oak Avenue property, which will be named and dedicated to AMYWF Wellness Foundation’s founding
Board Chair Dr. Randy Ellis, is currently in the renovation stage with the goal of opening in 2023.

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