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Saturday January 28th

Activists gather to support Chapel Hill affordable housing bond

Photo by Lyell McMerty.
Buy Photos Photo by Lyell McMerty.

Dozens of activists gathered in Peace and Justice Plaza Sunday afternoon to support the $10 million Chapel Hill Affordable Housing Bond that will be on the ballot this November.

Devin Ross, an organizer from Orange County Justice United, helped to organize the rally with the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition in front of the Chapel Hill post office. Activists sported signs urging citizens to vote in favor of the affordable housing bond up for referendum on the Chapel Hill ballot.

“ONE YES = $10 MILLION FOR HOUSING,” read the signs. “Vote YES for the $10 million Chapel Hill Affordable Housing Bond!”

The Community Empowerment Fund Advocacy Choir sings at Souls to the Polls at the Rally Peace and Justice Plaza on Franklin Street on Sunday Oct. 21, 2018. before marching to vote for Chapel Hill's affordable housing bond.

Many activists came from the Community Empowerment Fund, a local organization that seeks to help people transition from homelessness and poverty. They formed into a choir on the post office steps in front of a large banner and encouraged the rest of the rally to join them in singing two songs written for the movement.  

Ross and others handed out lyric sheets, and soon the plaza was singing along to a revised version of Alicia Keys’ “No One."

“You and me together, we can change people’s lives,” the crowd sang. “If we vote yes, everything’s gonna be alright.”

After the singing, the crowd quieted and listened to speakers talk about their experiences and what they envision for Chapel Hill’s future.  

One speaker, Susan Levy, the executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, asked the crowd if Chapel Hill should only be accessible to the wealthy or to the lucky.  She asked if it was acceptable that so much of the town’s workforce lived elsewhere.

“No!” replied the crowd.

But “no” was not the message of the day.  After the speeches, the rally marched towards the Chapel of the Cross early voting station, chanting “Vote Yes!” along the way.  

Ross was quick to collect the protestors' signs outside the church hosting the voting station, making sure not to expose the rally to accusations of campaigning within the minimum distance of a poll booth. After dropping off the signs in a small pile, the participants queued up to vote.

Levy said she supports the affordable housing bond because federal funding for affordable housing has diminished, and it is necessary for local governments to pick up the slack. She also said the bond will not prove to be a large burden for Chapel Hill tax payers.

“If you have a $400,000 home, you’ll pay $40 every year,” Levy said.  “Everyone who votes ‘yes’ is saying they want to be part of the solution.”

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