Chapel Hill voters approved a $10 million bond for affordable housing in November 2018, but that doesn’t mean that the issue of affordable housing for low-income residents has been solved.
Though local funding has steadily increased since fiscal year 2013, access to affordable housing, in some regards, has worsened. A 2018 Chapel Hill-Carrboro Chamber of Commerce report shows median rental prices in Chapel Hill rising by $127 from the 2007-2011 survey period to the 2012-2016 survey period.
The situation is similar in Carrboro and throughout Orange County.
“There are a lot of different factors, just with trying to find employment, housing costs increasing in the community, people's wages not increasing,” said Loryn Clark, the executive director of Housing and Community for the Town of Chapel Hill. “It varies on the individual."
Affordable rental housing is a particular need in Chapel Hill. According to Chapel Hill’s first affordable housing report of 2019, 54 percent of renters spend over 30 percent of their income on housing. An area's median income, or AMI, is an important indicator of need, and those earning between zero and 60 percent of the AMI make up the vast majority of the recipients of affordable housing.
“We have no places to put the individuals in the 30 percent AMI category,” said Joan Guilkey, head of civic engagement for the Chapel Hill Alliance for a Livable Town. “It's far from adequate. There's just not nearly enough of it.”
The Town completed 149 rental units at Greenfield Place Apartments two years ago and seeks to develop another 130 units at 2200 Homestead Road. The Town also has several more projects underway, including roof replacements and land acquisition.
The time scale of these projects has been a point of contention.
“We try with the monies that are there, but we tend to do it very slowly, and there's no committed effort to comprehensively address the problem,” Guilkey said.