Nearly a dozen housing advocates turned out to Monday night’s public hearing to ask the Chapel Hill Town Council to designate one penny of the current tax rate to support affordable housing.
“When those of us who provide and advocate for affordable housing consider the quarter cent on the tax rate that the manager’s budget proposes, we can’t help but feel it’s insignificance in meeting the needs of this community,” said Susan Levy, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity Orange County and chair of the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition. “Currently the town spends less that one percent of its budget to fund affordable housing programs, including running the public housing program. Surely it is time to increase that commitment.”
The manager’s recommended budget already includes $188,750 for housing initiatives, but supporters of the penny plan say that’s not enough and many on the council agree.
To get the total dollar amount closer to the goal of $755,000, Council member Donna Bell suggested diverting an additional $400,000 initially set aside for paying down the town’s post-employment healthcare liability.
“I do not think this is a long-range plan or a sustainable plan, but I would like to use those funds, in addition to the quarter cent that we already have budgeted,” said Bell. “That would bring us up to about 80 percent of what we originally wanted. I think that I would feel good about that level of commitment from the Council as far as funding for affordable housing this year.”
The Council will consider the budget proposal in detail at work sessions scheduled for June 2 and 4. Next year’s budget will likely be formally adopted June 9.