The Daily Tar Heel

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Wednesday January 20th

Carrboro Board of Aldermen talked housing costs

The Carrboro Board of Aldermen discussed the rising cost of housing in increasingly walkable, bikeable, livable Carrboro at a meeting Tuesday while considering updates to the Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund.

The purpose of the updates would be to expand the ways in which the money could be used and clarify standards for eligibility, according to the Aldermen's agenda.

Nate Broman-Fulks, assistant to the town manager, said the updates could provide more flexibility for the town to increase affordable housing in Carrboro, help residents understand the fund's guidelines more easily and create public awareness of affordable housing issues.

Beginning in 2013, several apartment complexes across Orange County stopped accepting Section 8 vouchers from residents. The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development Housing Choice Voucher Program, a program also known as Section 8, helps low-income families, the elderly and the disabled afford private housing.

The proposed updates to Carrboro's Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund would allow the town to provide rental grants to those residents with the vouchers who are relocating to Carrboro because their current apartment complexes no longer accept the vouchers. 

Alderman Damon Seils said the concrete updates would be valuable in continuing to address affordable housing in Carrboro.

“It sets some goals and identifies a number of strategies,” he said. “It helped me understand some of the issues before we take the next step to making policy decisions.”

Alderwoman Jacquelyn Gist said she disagreed that increasing the town's density and residents' access to public transportation — key components of the fund updates — will lead to lower housing costs.

“Wider access to public transportation, greater walkability, bikeability, those are good things,” she said. “But they are seeing now that that’s increasing the cost of housing, because those are desirable amenities, particularly for young professionals, for retired people.”

She said Carrboro should keep in mind the impact of continuing to emphasize walkability and public transit on the cost of housing when considering how to make housing more affordable.

Alderwoman Bethany Chaney said Carrboro's economy is driven by the University and its students.

She said housing policies should not restrict where students can live, so the board should focus on finding financing for affordable housing. 

She said the quintessential question for Chapel Hill and Carrboro moving forward is the tension between what's good for the community and what's attractive to potential investors.

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