The Carrboro Housing and Community Services Department presented its 2021-22 fiscal year activities report at the Carrboro Town Council Meeting on Tuesday.
The presentation included information about the department’s focus on racial equity, its goals for the upcoming year and the Emergency Housing Assistance program.
Anne-Marie Vanaman, the interim director of Carrboro Housing and Community Services, said the department has begun racial equity assessments of its two funding programs — the Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund and the Human Services program.
The Human Services program assessment was completed this fall, and Vanaman said the department hopes to slowly implement the assessment's recommendations throughout the fiscal year 2024.
She added that the department has already taken steps to address equity, such as offering translation services for public hearings in Spanish.
Vanaman said the Affordable Housing Special Revenue Fund assessment will be reviewed at the end of November.
“We anticipate any key findings from there, or any recommendations, to be rolled into the program probably over the summer and for the next year’s cycle,” she said.
The Emergency Housing Assistance program, administered by Orange County, has served 2,593 households in the county since January 2020, with Carrboro residents representing 28 percent of those served, she said.
Vanaman said that 49 percent of the households in the county that are served by the program are Black households, and 74 percent of the households are "extremely low income," or earn below 30 percent of the area median income.
“With the combination of the pandemic and current rising rents, emergency housing assistance is continuing to be a critical resource for our community,” she said.
In 2020, the median rent in Carrboro was $1,152 per month, which is up 17 percent from 2015, she said. The median rent for a one-bedroom apartment in 2022 is $1,256, an increase of nine percent from 2020.
Town Council member Randee Haven-O’Donnellsaid they want to understand how the emergency housing efforts in Carrboro help community members who need more secure housing over weeks or months.
“Folks that I know have been in this situation," Haven-O'Donnell said. "It’s been so hard to go from their car or on the street to something that is more sustainable, and that is on a trajectory that rolls naturally into something that is more secure."
Housing and Community Services Administration Assistant Zequel Hall said the department is working with Orange County to bring the issue of longer-term housing to the forefront.
Mayor Pro Tem Susan Romaine said she noticed that the Asian community in Carrboro makes up around eight to nine percent of the town population, but the number of grants they receive is not proportional to the size of the community.
“Some of this data keeps showing that the community members who are Asian are getting very few grants, and I notice it, especially with the emergency housing assistance, but also with the affordable housing special revenue funds, I wasn’t even sure I saw that category listed,” she said.
Hall said that over the summer, Orange County translated the Emergency Housing Assistance flyer into additional languages, such as Burmese and Karen.
According to the presentation, 75 ownership units and 380 rental units have been added in Carrboro as of November 2022.
“We are always working on adding new units, we are working (toward) the 2024 goal of the Affordable Housing Goals and Strategies document,” Vanaman said.
She said the department’s goal is to add a total of 85 new ownership units and 470 rental units by 2024.
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