Maria Palmer, a member of the Chapel Hill Town Council, said she thought the town should reverse the rental population as much as possible, but it is proving to be a difficult task.
“Low-income families can’t compete with a landlord who wants to make it student rentals,” Palmer said.
Northside is the historically black neighborhood located along the north side of Rosemary Street and bordered by North Columbia Street to the east and Lloyd Street to the west.
Palmer said if the town wants to preserve Northside it has to work with nonprofits like The Marian Cheek Jackson Center and EmPOWERment, Inc. which help place low-income families in affordable homes.
Landlord Mark Patmore, who owns Mercia Residential Properties, said only a handful of homeowners still exist in Northside. He said there are almost 800 residences, and 100 of those have owners living in them.
“It’s so far-fetched from reality to imagine changing this back to a family neighborhood,” Patmore said.
Town council member Lee Storrow said he would like to see more long-term, low-income residents move back into the neighborhood, but he doesn’t know how feasible that is.
“I don’t think it’s realistic to completely reverse the trend,” he said. “Northside is never going to be 100 percent owner occupied.”