The OC Voice is a portion of the OC Report newsletter where local residents may have a platform to talk about local issues they care about. Steve Friedman, a candidate for the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, outlines one of the biggest problems facing the community: affordable housing.
The character of a community is largely determined by its past residents' response to change. In some places, community members came together to define common goals and engage in evidence-based debates to formulate the best path forward.
These communities, like Detroit and Durham, become vibrant, inclusive and sustainable places to live. In some places, like Cherokee, N.C. and Madison, Ill., a small group of leaders took their constituents down a path without building consensus. In these places, residents remained too fearful of change to face it, or were unyielding in their preferred vision of the future and could not engage in good faith debate to arrive at a common path.
Today, we are the stewards of Carrboro’s future. The Carrboro community must address the changes it currently faces so it can remain both inclusive and sustainable for future residents. The people I’ve talked to in Carrboro, including leaders in our town’s government, point to three significant issues that stand out and need to be addressed. These issues are changes in the town’s housing requirements, creating a sustainable, growing economy and the political culture in which our town exists. In many ways, these issues are intertwined.
The Orange County Living Wage Commission — which Susan Romaine has done an outstanding job to spearhead — conducted a study that found that only 25 percent of the people who work in Carrboro and Chapel Hill can afford to live in the area in which they work. This identifies two challenges: providing affordable housing for a greater number of current and future residents and bolstering our business community so that we attract higher-wage jobs.