Carrboro community members attended an online open house Wednesday to discuss the Town's recently announced comprehensive plan. The plan focuses on ensuring affordable housing, embracing climate action and furthering racial equity for all Carrboro residents.
The product of 18 months of debate and discussion, the 2022-2042 Preliminary Draft Comprehensive Plan highlights a number of different goals and objectives the Town hopes to achieve in the next 20 years.
“What we’ve tried to do is build those values into every topic area that you can see in the plan,” Mayor Lydia Lavelle said.
Individual people and community groups contributed to the development of the comprehensive plan. Some of those groups include the Climate Change Committee, Affordable Housing Task Force and Racial Equity Commission.
“One of the biggest successes of this plan has been the community engagement,” Lavelle said. “It’s been remarkable that we’ve been able to achieve it here during a time of a pandemic.”
One of the plan’s points of emphasis has been on ensuring affordable housing in Carrboro, both now and in the future.
“We are already doing a lot of that work by, for example, investing in affordable housing projects,” Town Council member Damon Seils said. "The city’s efforts have primarily been directed towards groups like CASA, an affordable housing provider, as well as Habitat for Humanity and Pee Wee Homes."
A focus in the preliminary draft comprehensive plan is tying together efforts to achieve racial equity with the Town's affordable housing objectives.
“It’s displaced some of our long-term residents, our African American residents and whites and Hispanics who had lived in moderately priced neighborhoods," council member Jacquelyn Gist said. "Because we've become a place where people want to live, those neighborhoods are becoming less and less moderately priced.”
Gist said that becoming a place people want to live shouldn't take away from the affordability of housing.
“Our job with the comprehensive plan is to get all sides of the Rubik’s Cube right,” she added.
The preliminary plan also focuses on racial equity within climate action objectives.
“One of the things we are doing in our climate action is things like reducing the carbon footprint of our buildings, including homes,” Seils said.
Seils said that efforts to reduce energy use will also help Carrboro’s lower-income households, which are predominantly occupied by people of color.
“By investing in things like weatherization programs and other upgrades, we’re not only helping to achieve our climate action goals, but we're also improving the quality of housing and reducing the costs for folks who are living with limited or fixed incomes,” Seils said.
The Town will now work on finalizing the draft comprehensive plan that will go to a public hearing in November.
“It's not an overnight process," Gist said. "You don’t just flip a switch or put words on paper and everything’s OK. It’s a constant evolution of improving."
Anybody interested in giving feedback can visit Carrboro Connects and share their thoughts on the preliminary draft plan.
“The whole point of this rollout is to get people's feedback, get people's reactions to this first draft, so that we can make sure everyone's voices are included,” Seils said.
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