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UNC’s $3 million loan aims to make Northside a more inclusive neighborhood

“Everyone was very ill. All of the doctors and scientists couldn’t figure out what was causing this sickness. One day, they noticed the milkmaids were not getting sick. They decided to include the milkmaids in the discussion, and because they took the time to do so, the bovine-based vaccination was created.”

For Sabir-Calloway, the Northside Neighborhood Initiative is an example of including the “milkmaids” — those who aren’t scholars or scientists but instead residents of the community with significant points of view.

“You can’t know what people want unless they have a seat at the table,” she said.

In March, Chapel Hill announced the initiative, a partnership that aims to provide all Chapel Hill residents a seat at the table.

The town of Chapel Hill, UNC, Self-Help Credit Union and the Jackson Center have partnered to pursue a balanced Northside.

In a technique known as “landbanking,” UNC has given Self-Help Credit Union a $3 million, zero-percent interest loan that allows for the acquisition of Northside properties.

Sarah Vinas, housing and community planner for Chapel Hill, said this initiative aims to make the neighborhood relate to everybody.

“Our vision is to make Northside a community where longtime residents, young families and students can live,” she said.

At a meeting with Orange County’s Compass Group — made of community representatives and partners — one resident mentioned the need for quick cash to effect change.

Hudson Vaughan, deputy director for the Jackson Center, said the problem prompted adopting an initiative that allowed the purchase, repair and sale of homes to affordable housing agencies or aspiring owners.

“One thing we are explicit about is this is not an anti-student measure,” he said. “We have incorporated students into the process.”

After Self-Help obtains the properties, the agency has the opportunity to sell to new homeowners and tenants who hope to become a part of the Northside community.

“Loans are not being given directly to people,” said Dan Levine, Self-Help director of business development. “The loan is used to acquire properties and to hold them.”

After 10 years, Self-Help will pay back the loan to UNC.

Echoing Sabir-Calloway’s beliefs of inclusion, Della Pollock, the Jackson Center’s executive director, said the mission is to preserve and advance the historic Northside.

“We are often trying to fill the vision those histories put forward for fair housing and for youth empowerment, among other things.”

Sabir-Calloway said the initiative is a step in the right direction and a great way for the community’s different demographic groups to learn more about each other.

“You fear what you do not know,” she said. “If we are really neighbors, then we will know each other and not fear each other. My prayer is that the intention of this initiative is to enrich the community, and I think it will.”


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