This afternoon President Trump signed into law a $1.3 trillion omnibus spending package with significant increases for affordable housing and community development programs. This is exciting news for affordable housing advocates, but for the moment, let’s talk about some local wins. On March 14th, Chapel Hill Town Council members received a presentation from town staff to discuss financing mechanisms for more affordable housing funding. One of the resources that seems most impactful was a possible $10 million dollar general obligation bond for the November 2018 ballot.
During that initial staff presentation, some Council members shared concerns with the proposed amount without more concrete plans of how the funding will be deployed on an individual project level. This was met with strong push back from various organization including the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition (The Coalition). The Coalition asked that council members not only support the bond, but to set it at $15 million rather than $10 million. The difference to taxpayers between a $10 million and a $15 million dollar bond in terms of their taxes is projected to be less than $20/year for someone with a $350,000 home.
Nearly 10,000 renter households in Orange County are cost-burdened — that is 46% of all renters in the county.
Nearly 10,000 renter households in Orange County are cost-burdened — that is 46% of all renters in the county. To begin to meet that need there are a number of projects that have already identified for which the Coalition and the Town of Chapel Hill staff determined a gap of $15 million. About $7 million of those projects are on properties that the Chapel Hill currently owns. This need will likely only increase over the next few years as individuals and families continue to move into the area. This calls for proactive investment.
After careful consideration and strong community advocacy, council members voted 8-1 to approve a resolution for $10 million in general obligation bonds at their March 21st meeting. The lone dissenting vote was out of protest that the council had not approved $15 million. This is a great step for affordable housing, and an excellent example of affordable housing advocates engaging elected officials to bring more resources to bear.
For those in Orange County, I encourage you to reach out to Council members to thank them for their leadership. The next step is to begin educating neighbors and friends on the need for affordable housing and the importance of approving the bond in November. You can find resources on our website.
As always, we encourage you to join in our efforts to ensure every North Carolinian has a safe, decent and affordable place to call home.