Public: Affordable housing a priority FY 2014-15

Feb. 27, 2014 @ 12:04 PM

The first public hearing on the budget has some Chapel Hill residents wanting to make affordable housing a priority next fiscal year.

During its Feb. 24 meeting, the Chapel Hill town council began receiving public input on the upcoming budget, and several people spoke in support of the council continuing to fund Habitat for Humanity and other programs that get residents into affordable houses and rental homes.
“Habitat for Humanity supports making affordable housing a priority in the budget next year,” said agency executive director Susan Levy.
Levy said that her agency has submitted an application for $130,000. Of that money $55,000 would go to a lot of Craig Street for a single-family home and $75,000 would go to the Brush with Kindness program that makes critical repairs to homes.
Northside Community resident Cathy Atwater and UNC director of the office of fraternity and sorority life and community involvement Aaron Bachenheimer both support Brush with Kindness as a way to bridge the student population with the longtime residents of Chapel Hill through service and the mutual benefits it provides.
The public also petitioned that the town secure a continued stream of funding to help low-income families with affordable housing options.
Mary Jean Seyda spoke on behalf of CASA and the Orange County Partnership to End Homelessness advocating that there be a dedicated funding source for affordable housing in Chapel Hill.
Community Home Trust executive director Robert Dowling asked the council for $50,000 to help maintain affordable homes in the area.
“Funding from the federal government has just become pitiful,” Dowling said. “That points out a need, to me, for a dedicated funding source.”
Delores Bailey, executive director of Empowerment Inc., said that her agency was able to help people in Chapel Hill who were displaced from their homes because of flood waters during the summer.
“We helped two families purchase homes,” she said. “And we have programs that council people away from foreclosure.”
Affordable housing has been on the minds of the council and how to best provide it for citizens.
In December the council voted to sell town-owned property on Legion Road to the Downtown Housing Improvement Corporation for the development of low-income housing.
Prior to approving the purchase agreement, DHIC president Gregg Warren commented that the town had not identified a funding source for low-income housing in the town.
Warren’s housing proposal includes a building for senior citizens with 80 units and four buildings for workforce housing with 90 units, all on 8.5 acres of land.