The Chapel Hill Town Council met last week and agreed to purchase four condominium units at Ashley Forest for minimal cost from CASA, a Raleigh-based non-profit organization dedicated to developing rental housing for homeless veterans and people with disabilities.

Mayor Pam Hemminger says the condominiums will be used as affordable rental housing to low-income households.

“They’re going to be part of our transitional housing program though; right now we’re working toward people who can transition from public housing to the next level up and save up some money toward the next level in home ownership.”

The council authorized use of the Affordable Housing Fund to pay off the balance of the mortgage on the property and for renovation expenses up to $65,000.

During the meeting, the council also began conversations regarding the allocation of the town’s annual Community Development Block Grant funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, or HUD.

Hemminger says it’s important to have plans in place for the funds.

“Some of these dollars we have to spend in a certain time frame and you’re always looking for that project that fits the parameters in order to spend the money in the time limit that you’re given to spend, and we have a couple forward so we’re excited about that.”

According to Hemminger, the federal government has been cutting back on those types of funds.

“That is very concerning because we use those dollars to help run part of our public housing program; we use it for partnering with our partners to leverage to get more affordable housing units. We are trying to come up with our own strategic plans so that we’re not so heavily reliant on those dollars.”

There is still a shortage of affordable housing units – estimated at 2,000 by Hemminger – but the town is on target this year with a strategic plan of adding 80 units per year.

The council will hold a second public forum in March of 2018 and plan an estimated program for the funds based on the 2017 through 2018 allocation of $380,000.

Program plans will be submitted to HUD in May of 2018, and the department will then notify the town in the spring of the 2018-2019 allocation of funds.