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Durham weighs helping low-income homeowners handle rising property taxes

Posted February 26

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— Some Durham City Council members have proposed a city grant program to help low-income residents pay their property taxes as a way to maintain affordable housing in some neighborhoods.

A revaluation has sent the property taxes in and near downtown Durham soaring, making the area unaffordable for some residents.

"I'm not a math major. It was significantly lower, and now it's astronomically higher," Michele Hughes, who has owned a home near downtown since 2007, said of her tax bill.

"Low-income homeowners in certain neighborhoods face displacement due to a higher burden of property taxes," Councilwoman Jillian Johnson said.

The state already provides assistance with taxes to some people, but Johnson said a city grant program would have broader requirements, allowing younger people who earn slightly higher incomes to apply.

"The intention (is) that people who live in the neighborhoods are able to stay in their homes long term, that the city itself is not becoming a vehicle for gentrification," she said.

The City Council discussed the idea at a budget meeting Friday, but it remains unclear how the city would fund the grant program.

Johnson said Durham would still need other programs to ensure a stable supply of affordable housing.

"I think this is something the city can do to intervene on a small scale right now," she said of the grant program, "but I think that we are facing a crisis of affordable housing."

5 Comments

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  • Jacob Smith Feb 28, 2016
    user avatar

    Wow,

    Does this mean then when someone who owns a high dollar house and has a high income then retires with little income that they will have their tax reduced?

    I doubt it.

    This is another give-away program.

  • Sonja Yagel Feb 27, 2016
    user avatar

    I am so glad I don't live in Durham anymore.

  • Matt Nickeson Feb 27, 2016
    user avatar

    Am I missing something or should they just not have raised the taxes so much?

  • Janet Ghumri Feb 26, 2016
    user avatar

    So, the property taxes were increased in order to make the downtown area more attractive to higher income homeowners? They are already giving assistance to the origional lowest income homeowners? And now, the city wants to give grants (that it cannot afford) to the slightly higher income homeowners that they were trying to move out in the first place? Does this make sense?
    Maybe the grants should be based on the criminal records for the family /neighborhood. Then there's an economic interest for reporting and reducing crime. Higher income families are not going to want a home in a crime ridden neighborhood, especially if they have to pay taxes that the criminal next door gets paid for them.

  • Mark Colyer Feb 26, 2016
    user avatar

    Low income Chinese? Didn't think so