The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Tuesday May 24th

Carrboro Board of Aldermen revisit affordable housing

The board met to hammer down the details of its affordable housing strategy, which will include specific objectives for increasing affordable housing.

“We are not asking for changes in the ordinance. We are asking the board for goals and strategies,” said Alderman Michelle Johnson.

The first goal discussed was to increase the number of home ownership units that are permanently affordable in Carrboro.

Johnson said they do not have an exact number, but they are considering three options to figure out the number.

“I think the goal in 2020 is to have at least 15 percent of housing affordable,” said Alderman Damon Seils.

“My question is: ‘Do we want 15 percent of all housing in Carrboro to be affordable or 15 percent of new housing?’”

Seils said he wanted to tweak the wording in the goal about public transportation.

“The way the strategy seems to be worded now is that it seems to imagine housing projects being built and us taking transit to the housing projects,” he said.

“I want to focus a little more on bringing housing projects to where we already have transit or where it is easy to get transit.”

Board member Randee Haven-O’Donnell said she wants to explore ways in which the town can have a dedicated funding source for affordable housing.

Alderman Sammy Slade introduced an idea to fund the project. He said one possibility was to have a bond referendum to pay upfront, and then a penny tax could pay the bond off over time.

“Unless there is money behind it, it is not going to become real,” Slade said.

Alderman Jacquelyn Gist said she did not like the idea of raising taxes to go toward more affordable housing. She said the tax rate is making the possibility of living here unaffordable for many people.

She said it would be hard for certain segments of the population, like older residents, to pay an increased tax.

“If the affordable units are going toward young couples or young families starting out, you can get in to a situation where you are raising taxes on one group that has less potential for wealth.”

Slade said before making a decision, they need to do a cost action analysis and they need to prioritize the revenue they already have.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle said the town can go through many years without raising taxes and that helps with affordability.

“When I get asked about our strategies for affordable housing, one of the first things I say is we haven’t raised our tax rates in several years,” Lavelle said.

“That’s why I think I would be leaning toward the bond referendum because then it is more absorbed in to the existing budget and paying off the bonds. I think we all clearly see that we need to have some kind of money behind it to get it rolling.”

Haven-O’Donnell said that they have not sketched out any clear strategies, but she is optimistic about the process.

“It almost feels like we have our arms around it.”


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