On Election Day voters in Raleigh and Charlotte overwhelmingly voted in favor of affordable housing bond measures in their respective cities. In Raleigh, over 72% of voters supported that city’s $80 million affordable housing bond. Over in Charlotte, more than 77% of voters were in favor of a $50 million bond to support affordable housing in the city.
Charlotte’s $50 million housing bond will go into the city’s Housing Trust Fund which helps build and preserve affordable housing for low- and moderate-income households. The Charlotte bond measure is the last of a long-term 4-part plan of strategic investments into the city’s infrastructure, of which housing is considered to be a part of. Charlotte has passed housing bonds in 2018 ($50 million), 2016 ($15 million), and 2014 ($15 million). Along with housing, Charlotte voters last week also approved bonds of $44.5 million for neighborhood infrastructure, such as sidewalks, and $102.7 million for transportation.
With large numbers of people moving into the Triangle area, Raleigh, like neighboring cities, are seeing skyrocketing prices for rental housing and homeownership as demand for housing grows. The $80 million bond is the city’s “moonshot” in an attempt to address rising housing costs and growing concerns over gentrification and displacement. As Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin discussed with the Coalition, addressing the need for affordable housing is one of her main concerns. Raleigh’s bond will go towards land acquisition ($16 million), public-private partnerships ($28 million), gap financing ($24 million), first-time homeownership ($6 million), and homeowner rehabilitation assistance ($6 million).
Municipal bonds such as these allow local governments to quickly raise funds for brick-and-mortar projects that aim to improve the community’s overall quality of life. The strong support for these bonds indicates that there is substantial support across the state for making investments in housing. In August, Governor Cooper announced a proposal to include a $4.3 billion General Obligation bond on the 2021 ballot. The statewide bond would be used for schools, water/sewer infrastructure, and affordable housing. $500 million of the proposed bond would go towards responding to “affordable housing needs exacerbated by COVID-19.” Additional details on what that means specifically have yet to be unveiled and the Coalition will provide information as it becomes known to us.