The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Wednesday December 8th

Carrboro Board of Aldermen look to retain affordable housing

After tabling a proposal that would allow the town of Carrboro to take over a contentious housing complex, the Carrboro Board of Aldermen is looking for new ways to preserve low-income housing.

In December, former Alderman Dan Coleman proposed using the eminent domain clause of the Constitution to take over Collins Crossing Apartment Homes.


Dec. 17- Former Alderman Dan Coleman proposed taking over Collins Crossing using the eminent domain clause of the Constitution.

Jan. 30- House Bill 8, which restricts town governments’ use of eminent domain, was filed in the N.C. General Assembly. The bill tabled the board’s discussion of taking over Collins Crossing.

April 2- The board asked town staff to look into town ownership of public housing.

The proposal came amidst growing concern that the complex’s management was pricing out its low-income residents by raising rents, which management later refuted.

Eminent domain would allow the town to take over private property — without owner consent — to further economic development in the town.

But because of an N.C. General Assembly bill that would prohibit the town’s ability to use eminent domain and general concern with legality of the process, the board dropped the proposal.

During Tuesday’s meeting, aldermen discussed creating a town housing authority to manage the town’s ownership of affordable housing.

Sarah Hazel, a graduate student at the UNC School of Government, researched the possibility of a Carrboro housing authority.

Hazel said for a town of Carrboro’s size, a housing authority probably wouldn’t be the best fit.

“You could get into the business of owning affordable housing, but you wouldn’t need an authority to do it,” Hazel said.

“You could just have a department run it.”

Several aldermen expressed concern about possible town ownership of public housing.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said that while she wants the board to continue to advocate for affordable housing in Carrboro, she felt housing ownership is a responsibility of the county.

“I can’t see where the money would come from for us to provide rental housing,” Gist said. “Housing and human services are a county responsibility.”

Mayor Mark Chilton said he worried that taking over Collins Crossing would only be a temporary fix for a severe problem in the town.

Chilton, who works for the affordable housing non-profit Empowerment Inc., said the town should use caution when getting into the business of owning affordable housing.

“It’s a lot of work, it is a big responsibility and it comes with a lot of risks,” he said.

Instead of focusing solely on Collins Crossing, Chilton said he would like town staff to research the possibility of purchasing and renovating other affordable housing complexes in town.

“That way we don’t have this Collins Crossing pattern repeat itself,” he said.

The board voted to have town staff research Chilton’s proposal, which it will discuss again at its planning retreat in June.

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