On Sept. 8, affordable housing nonprofit Community Home Trust awarded local community members for their work — as well as the Town of Chapel Hill.
For over 30 years, CHT has helped to provide Chapel Hill and Carrboro residents with affordable housing through its partnership with the Town of Chapel Hill.
The event was held at Southern Community Park and was open to the public. An opportunity for people involved with CHT to come together, the meeting also offered food and a raffle ticket drawing.
Daniele Berman, CHT marketing and communications manager, said these events serve as the organization’s way of sharing updates with the public. However, this year’s event is only the second time CHT has hosted an awards ceremony.
“Last year, we decided we also wanted to recognize folks that are doing a really good job; doing the same kind of work that we are doing with the same goals as we have to make sure that Chapel Hill and Carrboro and Orange County are generally affordable places for lots of folks to be able to live,” Berman said.
One award given out by CHT during the event was the Exceptional Innovation Award, which the Town of Chapel Hill received because of its inclusionary zoning policy.
Inaugurated in 2010, the inclusionary zoning policy guarantees the affordability of housing options in every new development in the Town.
According to their website, CHT helps community members with buying and selling affordable homes. When a CHT homeowner wishes to move, the home remains within CHT's inventory. This allows homes that would otherwise increase in price to stay affordable indefinitely.
Berman said the Town works hard to make sure there are affordable opportunities for people to live in the area.
Chapel Hill Town Council member Michael Parker accepted the award on the Town’s behalf. He added that CHT has been an important partner for the Town.
“I'm very grateful for the work that the Community Home Trust does for our community,” Parker said.
The Community Home Trust gave out two other awards this year. One of those was the Good Neighbor Award, which highlights a community member who demonstrates a commitment to their community. CHT presented it in honor of the organization’s late Housing Program Coordinator Deanna Carson, who passed away in 2020.
This year, local resident LaPerry Ward was given the award. Although he was unable to attend the event, Berman described him as being a big brother or uncle to neighboring residents.
“He just really cares for his neighbors and is there for everybody,” Berman said.
The Building Better Futures Award award honors a donor to the organization. This year, the recipient was Evan Hirawasa, a local preschool teacher and CHT homeowner.
Hirawasa said she has sent monthly donations to CHT for 19 years.
She added that she believes that housing should be an equal opportunity for all and she donates without expecting anything in return. She said she does not anticipate receiving an award.
“It's just something I don't even think about,” Hirawasa said. “I just do it because it's important.”
Many of the people who were at the event are homeowners through CHT.
Mary Matos and her husband, Joseph, said they moved to Chapel Hill from South Carolina over eight years ago to be closer to their children, who are now adults. When they saw how high the home prices were, they contacted CHT.
Mary Matos said they bought an affordable home through CHT — and they still live there today.
“The people over at the home trust are very, very reliable,” Joseph Matos said. “They’re very nice, and they treat you like a human being.”
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