WILMINGTON, N.C. -- Affordable housing options destroyed in Hurricane Florence are finally coming back online.

Katherine Bowen and her grandchildren are one of five families who are moving back into Market North Apartments this week.

"I cried on her shoulder," said Bowen. "I was so happy to get my keys back." 

Bowen got her keys from the property manager Robin Gore last Tuesday. Bowen and her family have been staying with relatives and in hotels for the past 14 months.

"It was just a miserable time," said Bowen. "Going place to place. Nowhere to go, nowhere to stay."

Gore said this is not uncommon for most of their residents. This makes it even more urgent for them to get their 202 units back up and running. Gore said the units had not been renovated since the 60s when Market North was built.

"The new owners coming in, fixing up the property has been very long needed," said Gore. "And it makes me happy, it makes my heart smile to see the initiative taken."

Vitus took over ownership of the complex after Hurricane Florence and started construction in August 2019.

“At Vitus, we work to provide affordable housing to the cities and regions that need it most,” said Scott Langan, principal and director of development for Vitus. “Hurricane Florence had a severe impact on the infrastructure and people of Wilmington and it means so much to be able to welcome our residents back into a place they can be proud to call their home.”

This is the first phase of residents moving back in, with an end goal of all units being complete around March 2020.

Gore said about 70 percent of the past residents plan on returning. The remaining units will go to people on their affordable housing waitlist.