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Carrboro Board of Aldermen Getting Closer to Affordable Housing Plan

By Danny Hooley Posted April 9, 2014 at 2:59 am

CARRBORO – The Town of Carrboro is working on a long-term plan to make affordable housing more available to residents.

While discussing options for creating and funding affordable housing in Carrboro, Alderperson Jacquelyn Gist reminded her colleagues that affordability isn’t just about low mortgage payments.

“We’re not talking just affordable to buy, but affordable to stay in and maintain, and I think we need to be really cognizant of that.”

Her remarks came during a Board of Aldermen work session Tuesday night that included about a half hour of brainstorming, as Aldermen reviewed goals for affordable home ownership and rentals.

The main goal is for 15 percent of housing in Carrboro to be in the affordable range by 2020. The town has an Affordable Housing Task Force working on it, and there’s still a lot of fleshing out to do before there’s a final plan.

Alderperson Damon Seils said he likes the idea of re-developing the Jones Ferry Road corridor, which is already home to a lot of affordable housing. He said it’s also attractive to developers.

Mayor Lydia Lavelle offered this idea:

“We’ve talked about exploring other ways to come up with affordable housing, like reaching out to landowners of older housing in Carrboro and incentivizing them in some way.”

And Gist inquired about the desirability of manufactured housing in Carrboro:

“It’s affordable, it’s very nice, and it’s verboten around here. I just wonder if we want to look again at easing our rules on manufactured housing.”

A lot of ideas and incentives were offered for discussion, but as Alderperson Sammy Slade pointed out, no plan for affordable housing will become reality without some money behind it.

“In talking with the manager, one possibility – just exploring and brainstorming – was to have a bond referendum so we’d have the money up front,” said Slade. “But we could allocate a penny tax that could, over time, pay that off, and become a constant revenue stream after we pay it off, too.”

Gist wasn’t on board with the idea of raising taxes.

“There are many members of our community for whom the tax rate is making living here unaffordable,” said Gist. “And they tend to be our older residents, people who have been here a long time, people who have owned their houses for a long time.”

Slade answered that he shared those concerns, but at a time when both federal and state government are cutting back on subsidies for affordable housing, finding the money for it locally is tricky.

The Affordable Housing Task Force meets one more time before the next work session of the Board of Aldermen. The plan is to have some real strategies worked out before the summer break.

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