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Chapel Hill Town Council approves over $660,000 to fund affordable housing projects

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DTH Screenshot. Members of the Chapel Hill Town Council meet on Nov. 17, 2021.

The Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously voted to approve more than $660,000 in funding for affordable housing development at its meeting Wednesday. 

Affordable housing organizations CASA, Community Home Trust, EmPOWERment, Inc. and Habitat for Humanity requested funding for several projects in Chapel Hill. 

CASA requested $300,000 for the Homestead Gardens project, which would host 117 affordable housing units, including 32 rental units. The project intends to serve extremely low-income to moderate-income populations. The location, 2200 Homestead Road, is in close proximity to public transit for residents to use. 

Sarah Viñas, director of affordable housing and community connections for the Town of Chapel Hill, said the funding CASA requested is needed in order to secure a $3 million grant for the project. The Housing Advisory Board recommended fully funding the project.

EmPOWERment, Inc. also requested about $248,000 in funding for the acquisition of the Lindsay Street Duplex and for the Gomains House move. The Lindsay Street Duplex would provide two affordable rental units that are move-in ready. The Gomains House move involves moving a house from North Street to a lot that EmPOWERment owns on Gomains Street. 

The Housing Advisory Board decided to recommend fully funding the acquisition of the Lindsay Street Duplex but only partially funding the Gomains House move. 

Additionally, though the Community Home Trust requested $60,000 for the acquisition of a home on Graham Street, the Housing Advisory Board did not recommend funding this project due to limited funding. The project was not included in the modified recommended funding plan.

Habitat for Humanity requested $150,000 for the purchase of a property in order to build about eight homes and anticipates the project could take approximately eight years to complete.

“This would serve as a land-banking opportunity for future development for them,” Viñas said. 

Although the Housing Advisory Board did not recommend funding the Habitat for Humanity project, the council did vote to approve funding the project after $379,000 was made available from the Opportunity Fund of the Affordable Housing Fund.

Jennifer Player, the president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, said land in Chapel Hill is a “scarce and finite good” and urged the council to fund the Habitat for Humanity project. 

“There is an urgent deficit of affordable homes in Chapel Hill — a deficit that will only grow over time without intentional leadership today,” Player said.

Mayor Pam Hemminger expressed her support for the Habitat for Humanity’s request. 

“Land is only going to get more expensive as we move forward,” Hemminger said. “So, land-banking is truly important.”

Mayor Pro Tem Michael Parker also expressed his support for EmPOWERment, Inc.'s and Habitat for Humanity’s projects.

The unanimous vote approved the funding plan recommended by the Housing Advisory Board for the CASA and EmPOWERment, Inc. projects and added the Habitat for Humanity project.

The council also announced its recognition of Nov. 27 as Small Business Saturday during the meeting. 

The council welcomed Tamara Lackey to speak on behalf of small-business owners in Chapel Hill. Lackey is the owner of Coco Espresso, Bistro & Bar in Chapel Hill. Lackey thanked the Town Council for declaring the day as a celebration for small businesses and encouraged everyone to “shop small” on that day. 

“Buying local, of course, is so important because every time you make a purchase at a local business, you support local jobs, and you help to preserve the local character of our community,” Lackey said. “The bottom line is when you spend it here, you keep it here. So, let’s keep it local.”


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