CLARIFICATION: A previous version of this story said the Jackson Center is inviting more students into the Northside area. The Northside rentals advertised to student groups were already slated for students. Instead, the Jackson Center hoped to attract conscientious students to the Northside area to better work with longtime residents. The Daily Tar Heel apologizes for the mischaracterization.
The historically black Northside neighborhood has always worked to preserve its culture, which some fear has been threatened by an influx of student renters.
But now, a neighborhood organization is working to draw different students in.
The efforts to move students into Northside, the area north of Rosemary Street between North Columbia and Lloyd Streets, are being led by two men at the Jackson Center, an organization whose mission is to celebrate the neighborhood’s rich history.
In November, UNC junior Zack Kaplan teamed up with Jake Lerner, a coordinator of organizing and advocacy for the Jackson Center, to encourage service-minded students to move into Northside homes.
In the past, Northside homeowners have resisted students moving into the area. Residents said the increased number of students in Northside was causing property values to rise, pushing residents out of their homes.
Kaplan and Lerner composed an email sent to numerous UNC organizations intending for it to be forwarded to their listserv. It included information about their efforts to move more conscientious students into suitable housing and linked a Google Document listing some of the options available.
Although it is hard to say how many students were reached, the email was forwarded to between 30 and 35 UNC student organizations, including the Black Student Movement, Student Action with Workers and OneAct.
A handful of these groups responded to the email enthusiastically.
Kaplan, who has worked at the Jackson Center for roughly a year and a half, was pleasantly surprised at the traffic he received on the document listing available student housing in Northside.
“The Northside is a very historic neighborhood in our community; since the early 1900s it has been a hub of African-American life in Chapel Hill, it was the center of the Chapel Hill civil rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s,” Kaplan and Lerner said in the email.
By targeting service groups on campus, Kaplan felt they could recruit responsible students to the neighborhood. He linked his Google Document so any interested students could view the affordable housing options with just a click.
Shortly after the email was sent, Kaplan said he saw between 25 and 30 students viewing it at any given moment.
“We want to publicize it to responsible and respectful students so if they do live there they can respect and appreciate the history,” Kaplan said.
Students and long-term residents have frequently had problems cohabiting the neighborhood.
“Investors often purchase smaller single family homes and demolish those homes and build housing out of scale for the neighborhood,” said Megan Wooley, Chapel Hill’s housing and neighborhood services planner.
Kaplan and Lerner even remind students to be mindful of the neighborhood’s four person occupancy policy in the body of their email.
“More students who are mindful of being a good neighbor are exactly what we’re interested in,” Wooley said.
“I really admire the work of the Jackson Center. They’re a wonderful organization and a great partner to work with in the neighborhood.”
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