Hundreds meet to discuss Cary's affordable housing crisis
Posted November 11, 2021 4:55 a.m. EST
Updated November 12, 2021 12:26 p.m. EST
Cary, N.C. — On Thursday, hundreds of people will meet to discuss out what can be done to address the growing affordable housing crisis in Cary.
According to a recent study in the Cary housing plan, home prices and rent continue to skyrocket, and solutions are needed. The problem isn't limited to Cary. In October, WRAL TechWire reported record median rent rates at all-time highs in Raleigh, at $1,508, and in Durham, at $1,365.
Five candidates running for Cary Town Council said that they supported an effort by ONE Wake, or Organized Neighbors for Empowerment to fund more affordable housing projects in the years to come. Those candidates are Jennifer Robinson, running to represent District A, Mary Insprucker and Amanda Murphy, who are each running to represent District C and Carissa Johnson, who is running to be an at-large member of council. Jack Smith, who currently represents District C, was also in attendance.
The proposal, called “Penny for Housing," that would create a designated housing reserve in each operational budget based on the value of one cent per $100 on the $30.9 billion Cary tax base.
Over 300 leaders from 13 religious institutions, neighborhood associations and non-profits across Cary joined the discussion. Church leaders said that they are having to assist people to pay rising rent prices more this year than ever in years past.
Planners said Cary's population has more than tripled since 1990. Since 2010, the town has added 10,000 jobs earning $35,000 or less, yet housing and rental prices have skyrocketed.
The town has also lost thousands of affordable rental units, and seniors and landlords are having trouble affording home maintenance repairs.
Fr. Javier Almendarez-Bautista, with St. Paul's Episcopal Church, said he was concerned that with Apple bringing its business to the area soon, that rent prices will drive up even more than they already are.
"We're wondering, how much higher is it going to get," said Cary homeowner Lisa Wimbish about the cost of owning a home.
Organizers were particularly concerned about residents who live in the Kingwood neighborhood, a predominately Black area.
“Every effort should be made to allow our long time, low-income home owners to remain in place," said Howard Manning, executive director of Dorcas Ministries.
He highlighted that the town is losing essential workers — like teachers and firefighters — because they cannot afford to live in the town anymore. He pressured the town to limit foreclosures and evictions and assist those who's rent makes up more than 30% of their income.
"The Town of Cary is becoming increasingly unaffordable," event organizers said. "Additional concerns include rising property taxes and helping elderly residents on fixed incomes age in place in historic neighborhoods."
Other Triangle cities are already making changes.
In September, Durham’s first affordable housing apartment complex was completed. Last month, Raleigh hired a brokerage firm to find sites to build more affordable housing in the city using the $12 million affordable housing bond approved by voters last year.
Organizers said that Raleigh, Chapel Hill, Durham and Apex have already implemented the Penny for Housing plan. Cary should be next, they said.