Plans for the demolition of flood-damaged buildings at the Trent Court housing complex are still awaiting final approval from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to the head of the New Bern Housing Authority. 
Executive Director Tiffany Askew said the agency is still working to complete a FEMA funding application as well as requirements for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. 
Askew said she currently has no timeline on when approval for the demolition project might be granted. 
“We have to wait on approval and then we have to wait for studies to be done,” she commented. “But I hope we have some feedback and finalization next year.”
A total of 108 of Trent Court’s 218 units, which date back to the 1940s, were damaged during Hurricane Florence in September 2018. The 12 buildings in which those units are located were permanently closed and recommended for demolition. 
Shortly before his retirement in February 2020, the Housing Authority’s former executive director, Martin Blaney, said he believed demolition would begin the following summer.
Though she has only served with the Housing Authority since June 2021, Askew said she believed the COVID-19 pandemic has played some role in slowing the demolition process.
“I wasn’t here at the start of the pandemic but I’m pretty sure there were some delays during that time,” she commented.
Once the demolition is completed, Askew said the next step will be redevelopment. 
“We will be looking to replace those units throughout the city of New Bern and possibly in the county. We will be looking for land to do that, but we will replace those units,” Askew said. 
Plans for Trent Court’s future have yet to be decided, Askew said.
New Bern’s Choice Neighborhood Initiative (CNI), a renovation effort that encompasses the greater Five Points area, calls for the creation of a new Trent Court that would complement the surrounding historic district and include mixed income housing and possibly retail outlets. 
Askew said her agency would partner with the City of New Bern on the implementation of those plans. She said she expected those conversations to occur before demolition begins. 
“We definitely intend to follow what’s in the plan,” said Askew. “But as of today we haven’t had any actual sitdown conversations.”
The CNI plan also included the construction of the new 84-unit, $13 million affordable housing development that was recently completed off of Carolina Avenue. The 8-acre site was purchased by the Housing Authority in 2018, with construction beginning in October 2020.
Current Trent Court residents as well as those that required relocation due to the flood have been given a two-year priority consideration during the initial Carolina Avenue Apartments lease-up phase. Regardless of when their application is submitted, it will automatically be moved to the top of the waiting list.
Askew said most of Trent Court’s 110 remaining units are currently filled. Contractors recently completed work on roof repairs to the units and are doing some interior upgrades as well, she said.
“We’re still maintaining those units and making sure they’re in good condition because we do have families there,” Askew noted.