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The Daily Tar Heel

Task Force to Discuss Housing Options Today

The Orange County Affordable Housing Task Force will address the continuing problem of providing options for lower-income residents in a meeting today.

The task force will meet at 4:30 p.m. at the Southern Human Resources Center.

In recent years, real estate has become more expensive, creating a market too competitive for many medium-income families.

"It would be easy for Chapel Hill to become a city of college students and retirees," said James Ward, a member of the task force.

The Orange County Board of Commissioners established the task force in June to research ways to encourage affordable housing.

Dan Coleman, another member of the task force, said the committee planned to complete its resolutions by the end of the year.

"In the past decade, it has been increasingly difficult to find affordable housing," Coleman said. "We hope to generate ideas to better use resources."

Coleman said students are part of the housing problem.

"Students make the downtown areas less affordable," he said. "They share the rent for houses and apartments and therefore drive up the price."

He also said the area was becoming an increasingly popular place to live, drawing retirees and more affluent families.

Mark Dorosin, a Carrboro Board of Aldermen member who also serves on the task force, said the project faces problems caused by popular misconceptions.

"I think that people are afraid of certain aspects of this project because they think that affordable housing will not be compatable with the design of their neighborhoods," Dorosin said.

He explained that affordable housing, by federal standards, is property that sells for 80 percent of the area's median income.

Ward said the problem can only be solved effectively with careful planning for the future, including an emphasis on long-term affordability.

He said the aim of the task force is to restore diversity to the town.

"Public school teachers, people who cut hair, policemen and others would have the opportunity to live in Chapel Hill again."

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