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Carrboro woman petitions Chapel Hill Town Council to build affordable rental home

For Carrboro resident Lydia Mason, helping other people has always been second nature.

“That’s just how (my husband and I) were built,” Mason said, when asked why she decided to turn her home on Gomains Avenue into an affordable property for renters.

Now, Mason said she is petitioning the town of Chapel Hill to donate the lots adjacent to her home to build a house for rental purposes. Mason said EmPOWERment Inc., an affordable housing nonprofit, would add the home to its rental properties inventory.

“People should be happy where they live, and they shouldn't have to be crowded just because they live in affordable housing,” Mason said.

Mason said she has already contacted an architect to draw up plans for the rental home. She said she wants to have clear plans written down, with information about cost and other logistics, before she brings her proposal in front of the Chapel Hill Town Council.

“I’m serious about what I want to do. I’m really serious,” Mason said. “I just want to put pen to paper.”

Delores Bailey, the executive director of EmPOWERment Inc., said Mason was a great person to take on this task. Bailey said Mason is a business-minded person and very invested in the community.

“We’re pro this idea because someone from the community wants to build in the community and wants to make it an affordable rental home,” Bailey said.

Council member Jessica Anderson said in an email that the council is also hearing proposals from Habit for Humanity, which has an established relationship with the council.

“I would need more evidence on why Ms. Mason’s proposal would be more beneficial in creating affordable housing than Habitat’s before saying whether I would personally approve it,” Anderson said.

Mason said being on EmPOWERment’s board of directors has opened her eyes to the need for affordable housing in the community, but it was her late husband who first had the idea to rent out homes for those needing housing assistance. 

“(My husband) was able to make sure the house was up to code and up to standards,” Mason said about her first home, which is now a rental property. 

“When he passed, I decided that I’m still going to do that.”


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