The Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce announced increases in average income and housing prices in Orange County during its State of the Community Report, causing some community members to question if low-income individuals can afford to live in the area.
The report debrief was held on Aug. 23.
Chamber leaders, in partnership with Carolina Demography, presented research on the makeup of Orange County at the State of the Community address. Data included population rates, migration patterns, worker flows and Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools' test scores.
“We actually did not put out recommendations; there aren’t any call-to-actions,” said Katie Loovis, the chamber's vice president for external affairs. “Part of that is because it’s really important for a community to agree on and understand where they are so that together we can think about a shared vision of where we want to go.”
Orange County’s median household income, adjusted for inflation, increased by $3,503 since 1998, according to the report, while median home prices increased by $51,245 since 2012.
Median rent in Chapel Hill was $934 during the time period of 2007 to 2011, but increased to $1,061 from 2012 to 2016.
“Rent is getting more expensive, but wage growth is outpacing it,” a summary of the report said.
Jennifer Player, associate executive director for Habitat for Humanity Orange County, questioned if the increase in income is reflective of the entire community.
Player said she didn’t think there was an increase in wages in the families she works with, who earn 40 to 70 percent less than the average Orange County resident.