Local News

Wake group calling for relief from rising property taxes forcing displacement

Posted October 21, 2021 5:40 p.m. EDT
Updated October 21, 2021 8:05 p.m. EDT

— Congregations around Wake County are coming together to devise a solution to save longtime homeowners from soaring property tax bills.

A recent reassessment saw home values soar 20 percent on average. Some in southeast Raleigh have drafted a new proposal for some tax relief as the bills are becoming a burden for some longtime homeowners.

The property tax bill for one homeowner in southeast Raleigh has gone from $1,755 in 2019 to just under $2,500 in 2021.

The group One Wake says these increases threaten to force lower-income people out of their homes.

Reverend Lisa Yebuah preaches and lives in Raleigh's College Park community, where new homes tower over their neighbors' more modest homes.

"With the convergence of both gentrification and watching house prices skyrocket in this area, it becomes kind of a cocktail of real pressure for people to think about if they’re going to need to vacate their homes because they can’t pay this extra bill," said Yebuah, who leads at Southeast Raleigh Table Church. She sees the cost of that cocktail in her own property taxes.

"I’m one of those people who’s seen my bills go up," she said. "Since 2019 to 2021, I’ve seen a $1,500 jump."

Not everyone can afford the jump in price. Foreclosures are up 150% in Durham County and 66.67% in Wake County from the previous quarter, information from ATTOM Data Solutions shows. That mark is a significant increase compared to the national average of a 34 percent increase quarter-over-quarter.

In the Raleigh Metropolitan Statistical Area, Apartment List found the median rent price to be $1,508, the highest in the company’s data set.

Yebuah's congregation is one of dozens in the One Wake group leading a call to action to help low-income people stay in the homes they've lived in for years. Stephon Whitley leads the group.

"These are the people who built Raleigh and who lived in those neighborhoods, were forced to live in those communities," Whitley said. "It’s not fair for them now to be forced to move out because now all of a sudden we want to develop in those communities."

They're calling on the Wake County Commission and Raleigh City Council to create a new property tax relief program for people who've owned their homes for at least 10 years and make less than 80-percent of area median income. That comes out to $53,600 a year for one person. They would pay no more than 2-percent of their income on property taxes.

"This is a starting place for us to right some wrongs in our community and we can do this together," Yebuah said.

One Wake estimates this would cost $40 million a year.

Wake County commission chair Matt Calabria sent a statement on the issue to WRAL that read: “As Chair of the Wake County Board of Commissioners, I know that housing affordability is one of our most important issues. While the county has taken record-breaking steps to increase our affordable housing stock, we know that rising housing costs and property values continue to disproportionately affect low-income homeowners.

That’s why, earlier this month, the Wake County Commission unanimously instructed our staff to investigate opportunities to create a related human services program that would help support some of our most vulnerable residents. At the beginning of this year, I declared that “Prosperity for All” would be the theme for our work this year.

We know that our community’s prosperity is not evenly enjoyed, and we must work toward creating a community where everyone has the opportunity to thrive. I believe a program to help low-wealth homeowners could be a great way to do that, and I am looking forward to working with ONE Wake and others to explore what we can do to help our residents.”

The group is kicking off this push with a hybrid in-person and virtual meeting Thursday night at 6:30 at Southeast Raleigh Table Church on New Bern Avenue. One Wake is made up of 500 leaders from 46 religious institutions, neighborhood associations, and non-profits from municipalities across the county.

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