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The Daily Tar Heel

What affordable housing could look like in Chapel Hill thanks to this new funding

New affordable housing
The Chandler Woods Project, on Homestead Road, is just one site of a brand new affordable housing initiative that is now underway. Commissioned by the Town of Chapel Hill, the project will provide several affordable housing opportunities.

The Town of Chapel Hill approved $450,000 for three additional affordable housing projects at the end of March. Public officials are hoping the three projects will target a vast audience and be an important step toward making Chapel Hill a more inclusive community.

“Through projects like the ones that were funded, the Town is creating new affordable housing as well as preserving the existing affordable housing here in town,” said Nate Broman-Fulks, affordable housing manager for the Town of Chapel Hill. 

Broman-Fulks said construction is estimated to start in 2022, and the projects are planned to be completed a few years after that. 

“These new grants reflect the range of investments and activities that the council is focusing on as part of our comprehensive affordable housing strategy to expand both rental and home ownership opportunities," said Karen Stegman, a Chapel Hill Town council member, via email. "They also reflect the importance of the Town's strong partnership with the non-profit housing organizations in our community who do so much to expand housing options in Chapel Hill." 

The first of the three affordable housing initiatives, the Sunrise Road Project, will build affordable units for seniors who need assisted livingin collaboration with Carol Woods, a retirement community in Chapel Hill.

According to the Town's press release announcing the projects, Habitat for Humanity will assist with land acquisition and predevelopment costs to develop 95 homes for the project. An additional goal for the Sunrise Road Project is to create an intergenerational housing project that is available for people of all kinds of financial ability, but especially first time home owners.

"The planned vision is for a mixed-income, intergenerational neighborhood housing people of diverse ages, backgrounds, life stages and races," the Town said in the press release.

The second project, the Chandler Woods Acquisition, has two main goals: to buy and resell townhomes that are currently being developed in Chandler Woods and to reduce costs of rental housing to those in low-income households. The project will gain possession of these units and then sell them to buyers across the economic spectrum.

According to the press release, the homes will be “sold using a 99-year ground lease, which will result in permanent affordability by limiting appreciation."

The third project, the Master Leasing Pilot Program, will help families who live in Community Home Trust-subsidized apartments with monthly expenses and bills. 

“Employing a model that has not been used previously in Chapel Hill, Community Home Trust will lease near market rate apartments and sub-lease those apartments to program participants at lower, more affordable rent levels,” the press release said.

The Master Leasing Pilot Program is meant to target residents whose salary is below 30 percent of the area median income. Helping these individuals financially would ideally make renting an easier process and alleviate the stress of possible homelessness.

“On any given night in Chapel Hill, there are approximately 150 people experiencing homeless, and of those, 40-50 are unsheltered. We, as a Town Council, and as a community, need to do better,” Stegman said in an email to the DTH. “The nationwide trend is going down, but in Chapel Hill it is going up. These investments are a critical — but insufficient — step towards becoming the welcoming and accessible Town we want to be.”


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