It’s been about 20 years since the town of Chapel Hill received an increase in federal funding for public housing, which comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. And the process to apply for funding has become more complex, said Vaughn, director of the town’s public housing department.
“It’s very competitive to get housing,” she said. “There is some, but it’s not as easy as it was in the past.”
The last increase funded 24 housing units in Chapel Hill, bringing the town’s total number of units to 336 apartments in 13 neighborhoods.
The disconnect between how much money Chapel Hill has for affordable housing and how much it needs has forced the town to look for other options to accommodate its low-income residents. With its supply of federal funds stagnating, the town has implemented provisions for private housing developers to secure additional affordable housing options.
Private developers are required to allocate 15 percent of the units for affordable housing within the town limits and only 10 percent if the development is within the downtown area.
To qualify for public housing, a person’s total income cannot exceed 50 percent of the area’s median income for newer units, and 80 percent for units occupied before October 1981.
The qualifications for a person to receive affordable housing provided by a private agency differ from the town’s. For private companies, the ceiling on a person’s total income can be as low as 30 percent.
The town draws money from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Community Development Block Grant and HOME programs to also provide money for private agencies, including EmPOWERment Inc. and Habitat for Humanity, which use the money to manage affordable housing of their own.