Local News

Mayors say Chapel Hill area needs affordable housing

Posted August 5, 2014

— The mayors of Chapel Hill and Carrboro on Tuesday called for local landlords to continue accepting federal housing vouchers, saying the vouchers are critical to allowing low-income residents to continue living in an area that has a dwindling supply of affordable housing.

The owners and managers of nine multi-family properties in the Chapel Hill area, which combined can house up to 90 families, have decided in recent months to stop accepting Section 8 vouchers from tenants. The federal vouchers pay a substantial portion of rent and utilities for low-income residents.

Many of the complexes have pushed up their rents, which is pushing out low-income tenants, officials said.

Chapel Hill has some of the priciest properties in the Triangle, meaning some of the displaced Section 8 tenants might have to move elsewhere. Local officials said these people could be police officers, firefighters or day care workers.

"If they have children, they may qualify to receive a voucher, and what better people do you want in your community than those who can care for others?" said James Davis, a civil rights specialist with the Orange County Human Relations Commission.

Each town has a pool of funds and the assistance of nonprofit organizations to help some of the displaced residents find affordable housing in the area.

Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt said Section 8 housing has a stigma that is unwarranted.

"This is a way for landlords to get secure pay for their rental properties," Kleinschmidt said. "We're talking about folks who are willing and able to not just contribute to the community but to stay in their units for a long period of time."

Paul Reynolds has lived in Chapel Hill for 17 years, but the company that manages the 86 North complex where he lives will stop accepting his Section 8 voucher in December.

"I don't know where I'm going to live because I'm in this wheelchair," Reynolds said. "If I didn't have Section 8, then I'll be, I don't know, I'll be living in a homeless shelter or something like that."

Neither Chapel Hill nor Carrboro can force landlords to accept vouchers, but they hope that, by promoting tenants such as Reynolds, they can persuade complexes to change their opposition to Section 8 vouchers.

"We want folks to be able to stay here in our town," Kleinschmidt said.


This story is closed for comments.

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  • IJS Aug 7, 2014

    I don't disagree with the notion of subsidized housing. I disagree with a mentality of "it's not mine so if it's destroyed so what". The rub is when that mentality comes and depreciates home values of others that work hard to obtain and maintain their homes. I don't blame anyone for wanting to move into a nice community. The problem for me is when old habits and mindsets follow into the new environment. If ordinarily this didn't happen, more communities would be more welcoming.

  • James Barefoot Aug 6, 2014
    user avatar

    food stamp trader I agree,,, Been there done that

  • btneast Aug 6, 2014

    UNC-CH needs to get involved because it really is part of a business solution since they are the largest employersThe problem is that most of the residents are academics, and live in a world of theory , rather than reality. When reality begins to dispel their theories, they ignore it or try to shout it down.

  • 68_dodge_polara Aug 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    and call it free money...

  • tomfoolery Aug 6, 2014

    Someone get me some popcorn, this is going to be good! Oh wait... I don't live in CH. Guess I'll have to get it myself.

  • uBnice Aug 6, 2014

    The vast number of blue-collar people who support UNC-CH basically cannot afford to live in Chapel Hill. They must live far away, adding to the burden of low pay.

    For Chapel Hill, the low-income people for housing purposes include police, firefighters, etc.

    UNC-CH needs to get involved because it really is part of a business solution since they are the largest employers. The University's non-taxable status makes it so that to generate taxes, Chapel Hill must have expensive housing and high property values. And that extra tax for schools would also be a burden for low income residents.

  • John Ragan Aug 6, 2014
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    obviously you haven't read the news lately about the violent crime in Chapel Hill now

  • sinenomine Aug 6, 2014

    Having lived there for fourteen years before coming to Raleigh I will attest that probably no place in the country has a bigger case of NIMBYitis than Chapel Hill. All the folks there want affordable housing, just not on their block.

    If you look up "ivory tower" in the dictionary there will be a picture of Chapel Hill to illustrate the definition. This was the town that, when I lived there, routinely protested every international crisis from Vietnam to apartheid but did nothing to address a ridiculously outdated city system which resulted in severe water shortages practically every summer.

  • rocket Aug 6, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Why spend your own money when you can spend someone else's?

  • stymieindurham Aug 6, 2014

    Now THAT is one way to curtail crime.