Q # 5 Workforce housing and affordable rentals

5. Recommend what the Town should do to provide workforce housing and affordable rentals.

 George Cianciola  Citizens of Chapel Hill have consistently said they want more affordable housing, whether it is owner-occupied or rental.  Our current approach of requiring developers to provide such housing as part of any approval process has provided us with a limited number of units but in the process has raised the prices on market-rate units and thus made the overall housing market even less affordable.  We need a different approach.

If we as a community really believe that our teachers, our public safety personnel, our Town employees, our University staff (including young professionals) should be able to live in the same town they work in, then we need to stop talking the talk and begin walking the walk.  If that is our vision for a truly generous, compassionate and socially-responsible community then we should be willing to make sacrifices to achieve it.  We should be willing to invest some of our taxes into developing affordable housing, preferably in some sort of public-private partnerships (Town-developers) or some sort of public-public-private partnerships (Town-UNC-developers).  It is time that we stopped putting the responsibility of creating affordable housing on one single group of business persons and instead begin, as a community, to find solutions to this issue.

Ed Harrison  What’s needed the most for developers of these two housing types – sometimes the same – is affordable land, in our very expensive jurisdiction. The town itself has most likely built all the public housing it will build. Because of the high expense of land, affordable and workforce housing will tend to get built at higher intensities than what’s been built nearby in the past. I will work to create a free-standing affordable housing board that has a focus on helping applicants work with existing neighborhoods adjacent to potential sites to understand issues for them. The charge to that board should make clear that it does not advocate for particular housing projects, but instead works with affected existing residents on optimizing the proposed developments.

With almost no new single-family homes being built here anymore, the model of single family needs to change if we are to expect any such workforce housing to be built by private or non-profit developers. Our community’s neighborhood advocates are already making this an issue. For multi-family housing, design needs to be much more carefully considered because so much of it will be near or next to existing single-family homes.

Loren Hintz  This is tough to do with the limited resources. The Town needs to encourage the School Board and the University to look for ways to create workforce housing. We should consider using some of Town land for affordable housing. We need to point out that the local services of public transportation, public school aftercare and energy efficiency requirements reduce expenses and allow a larger share of the family budget for housing. The Town and other agencies need to pay a livable wage to employees. Also the town needs to continue to work with developers and NGOs and continue to create incentives for affordable housing.

Sally Greene   Donna Bell and I have completed several months of convening a mayor’s task force on this topic. We will soon bring forward a draft affordable rental strategy for Council consideration. The first and most timely is a recommendation to begin the approval process for a low-income tax credit rental housing project by DHIC, Inc., a Raleigh nonprofit with a track record of success in this area. It would include approximately 80 senior apartments and 60 family/workforce apartments, built on Town land. We will be asking our colleagues to work quickly on this project in order to meet rigid tax credit deadlines.

We will also propose dedication of an income stream from tax dollars to affordable (our definition includes what is sometimes called “workforce”) housing: rental and ownership models. And the task force supports the idea of expanding the public housing board to all affordable housing. We need such a board as well as a staff person dedicated to championing and seeking out opportunities for collaborations (public and private) on affordable rental opportunities. We are also proposing to make the application process less burdensome for projects that include a substantial amount of subsidized affordable rental units.

Gary Kahn  Build public housing on lots owned by the Town for low income and seniors.

Paul Neebe  We must make affordable housing a priority.  The town planners know how to make this work and there is a company in Raleigh that’s very successful with affordable housing. We don’t need to reinvent the wheel; we just need to learn from and emulate other towns’ successes.

Maria Palmer  Everything. We need to encourage responsible and green development and also build joint town/non-profit projects. We need to push UNC to build workforce housing at Carolina North using the Land Trust model.

Amy Ryan  This is an extremely difficult issue for the town to solve, given the desirability of the town as a place to live and our subsequent high property values.  One important step is to preserve the moderately priced housing stock that we have.  I voted against the Bicycle/Lux Apartments when it came in front of the Planning Board in part because it was replacing a significant number of moderately priced units with high-end student housing.

I would also continue to support our Neighborhood Conservation Districts, such as the one in place at Northside, which also offer some protection of our affordable and workforce housing stock.  Another important step is to recognize that affordability is about more than just a housing payment.  Locating moderately priced housing on major transit routes and within walking and biking distance of employment centers means that families have the option of saving money on car expenses.  Responsible fiscal planning that keeps tax increases in check is another factor that can help make living in town more affordable for a broader range of our community members.

Another important step is to recognize that affordability is about more than just a housing payment.  Locating moderately priced housing on major transit routes and within walking and biking distance of employment centers means that families have the option of saving money on car expenses.  Responsible fiscal planning that keeps tax increases in check is another factor that can help make living in town more affordable for a broader range of our community members.

D.C. Swinton  Chapel Hill must work with developers to created mixed-income housing and mixed-income neighborhoods. Separating our citizens into the well-to-do neighborhoods and workforce neighborhoods is not conducive to the idea of community that I have in mind. I would like to establish an ordinance that would require all future development plans that include housing to provide a wide variety of options at different rates.

 

 

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