DURHAM COUNTY, N.C. — If you live in the Triangle, you know housing is not cheap. For many people, it is a real burden.
A recent study found even though the economy has faltered and many apartments are going unleased, rents have continued to rise in the Triangle, forcing thousands of people to pay too much for a place to live.
When you think of affordable housing what comes to mind? Is it a new gated community with a swimming pool and a club house? That is the reality, but affordable housing experts said most people have the wrong idea, which stands in the way of more communities being built.
"People still have a stereotype of affordable housing based on the 1960s and '70s style of HUD housing where you crammed as many people and children as you could into a 20-story high rise, and it was chaotic. That concept has been abandoned," developer Claude Hicks said.
Hicks, and others interested in affordable housing will meet Thursday to talk about how to create more of it and the critical need for it.
"In this area, it takes a wage of $12.50 an hour to afford the average price two-bedroom apartment. There are a lot of people who work very, very hard, work long hours, and don't make $12.50 an hour," said Gary Kane, of the Center to Create Affordable Housing.
In the Triangle, fair market rent is about $800 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. Experts said local and federal governments and private developers have to work together to get projects like this off the ground.
Housing advocates said they will focus on the people in need to make the case.
"You count on the people who work in the restaurants, you count on the people who work in day care, you count on the people who help you. If they can't afford a decent place to live, they really can't afford to live in your community and serve you," Kane said.
Affordable housing accepts families who make up to $42,000 a year. Experts said such housing is needed in the Triangle more than anywhere else in the state.
According to the North Carolina low income housing coalition, the Triangle remains the most expensive rental market in North Carolina, followed by Charlotte.