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Change with Equity, Reparative Justice, and Fair Development

A perspective from Linda Brown


For some time, others have made unmerited assumptions about who CHALT is and what CHALT members believe, even though CHALT has clearly stated its positions, and shared the work it has done to advance them, on their website. Therefore, I find it necessary to state the following:

We believe that having more people live closer to where they work is environmentally essential to help combat global warming, and we believe that major employers–not developers–must create workforce housing.

We want to see more people provided with a variety of permanently affordable housing for home ownership (including tiny homes, condos, duplex, triplex, quads, and townhomes) as a way of reducing the wealth gap and creating generational wealth to lift people out of poverty and build generational wealth.

Many people who haven’t bought a house in 30 years (or even 5) or don’t pay rent, are well aware of the impact the high cost of housing has on the working poor and young families since many who are unable to buy homes are their own children and/or family members.  These same people also donate to organizations that house and feed people.

We want our town become more racially, ethnically and economically diverse and to do that by prioritizing racial equity and reparative justice

Not all CHALT PAC members bought their Chapel Hill homes 30 years ago, some are newcomers of less than 10 and even 5 years–and certainly don’t live in high end housing.  Others live in below market rate housing by the grace of a socially responsible developer and some have even been homeless while still making personal financial sacrifices to contribute to the PAC. Furthermore, unlike other PAC’s, all of CHALT PAC’s records are available for public scrutiny and neither CHALT PAC or the candidates it endorses takes funds from developers.

We do not believe in enriching developers at the expense of people who need safe and permanently affordable housing. Developers build places for the purpose of making maximum profit and creating an income stream for their investors (real estate investment trusts and hedge funds) which is why most of the housing they are building is apartments and rental homes. Selling public land for private profit–like the willingness to build housing on Legion Park is a perfect example of this. (The park is not the only location available for affordable housing.  The proposed developments in NE Chapel Hill would be the ideal place to create a new community of permanently affordable mixed income housing of various types, yet none of those who support the sale of public land advocates using the NE Chapel Hill location for affordable housing.)

We are pro-more people living here in housing they can reasonably afford to buy. Home ownership should not, like green space, be limited to the wealthy.

A community cannot become racially, ethnically and economically diverse if it pursues a market based economic strategy that restricts home ownership to a wealthy few while pushing people out by raising property taxes because of its failure to take advantage of the multiplier effect to increase economic growth.

We must respond to changing needs and conditions by using a community wealth building economic model. Community wealth building (CWB) is a system-changing approach to community economic development. It works to produce broadly shared economic prosperity, racial equity, and ecological sustainability through the reconfiguration of institutions and local economies on the basis of greater democratic ownership, participation, and control.

The traditional market-based paradigm, which uses public resources (like Legion Park) to attract corporations and is designed to extract wealth and real estate capital in ways that displace communities, has been fundamentally broken for some time—but for too long many local policymakers believed this broken system was their only option.

While there is the need to transform older neighborhoods by increasing density to accommodate a large number of people, the amount of density and the architectural design of new buildings should be compatible with those of the existing community while allowing for a variety of housing types.

We have no opposition to development, yet that development must be fair development that prioritizes residents—not developers–and places equity racial equity and reparative justice at the forefront.  That fair development must benefit all residents, and future residents regardless of their income level–and provide all with the opportunity for a variety of safe, permanently affordable home ownership opportunities at a variety of price points.

We can attack others and make false accusations while we pretend to be the injured parties, and pretend that existing market-based policies will provide the type and amount of housing we need, as we watch the wealth gap becomes a chasm–or we can explore other options to create the welcoming, equitable, racially and economically diverse community that we claim we want to become

Beyond the Market: Housing Alternatives from the Grassroots – https://www.dissentmagazine.org/article/beyond-market-alternatives-grassroots-lec-clt

Community Wealth Building – https://democracycollaborative.org/cwb

Community wealth building and climate action [webinar video] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sPkV5zqrHbU


“Viewpoints” on Chapelboro is a recurring series of community-submitted opinion columns. All thoughts, ideas, opinions and expressions in this series are those of the author, and do not reflect the work or reporting of 97.9 The Hill and Chapelboro.com.