The development and preservation of the Town of Chapel Hill's new affordable housing units struggles to keep up with demand, despite increases in funding.
This fiscal year, the Town plans to preserve 350 affordable units and develop 30 affordable units. Last fiscal year, the Town funded the preservation of 509 affordable units and the development of 11 affordable units.
Emily Holt, the Town’s affordable housing development officer, said preservation helps to keep existing units affordable.
“Whether that is because we are keeping somebody else from buying it or we’re putting money in to rehab it, that helps someone continue to live in it,” Holt said. “Or, sometimes it is because we have provided some sort of rental subsidy or Home Buyer Assistance that helps somebody.”
In contrast to preservation, development is the construction of a new unit, Holt said.
She added that development depends on funding, and there is a delay between when a project is financed and when it is finished.
“It’s less expensive to fix what’s there than to start from scratch," she said. "But that being said, you need substantial money to do either.”
Holt said the Town can only preserve affordable units if it has the funds to compete with other buyers in the market.
“So, even though it is probably less expensive to preserve, you have to be able to keep it in your inventory and have the money to fight people off,” she said.