Park, Housing: Not an Either-Or

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  1. Terri

     /  December 4, 2017

    “Spending money on a community gathering space doesn’t mean we can’t spend money on subsidized housing.”

    But why does housing for working people have to be subsidized? In a healthy local economy, there would be a range of housing sizes and prices that wouldn’t require so many people (many of whom earn more than the state minimum) to need to be subsidized.

    At some point, someone has to accept that building more affordable housing developments, is also raising the cost of living here. Higher cost of living means more people need subsidies to come here. For those who are already here, the property tax and other costs of living are no longer affordable so they leave. And every time one of them leaves, it seems like a wealthy person takes there place.

    The way the town’s ‘affordable’ housing solution has been implemented has created a positive feedback loop. It’s unsustainable. (A positive feedback loop is one in which there is no cutoff mechanism. A thermostat is a negative feedback loop because you can set the controls. A bathtub is a positive feedback loop because you have to watch it and make a decision when to shut off the water.)

  2. Nancy

     /  December 4, 2017

    Well said, Terri. A few reasons we got ourselves into this loop: 1) Most development now is done as private equity investments that have to guarantee a set rate of return for investors. I’d like to see us recruit more local builders not tied into a set profit. 2) To get the highest possible return, developers build high-rent projects to recoup their investment costs. I’d like to find ways to expedite the kind of projects that serve our community best. 3) Developers know that council will lower our expectations for affordable housing if they say, “The numbers don’t work.” I’d like to see council take a firmer stand on our expectations.

  3. Gregg Gerdau

     /  December 4, 2017

    Oxymoron alert! “A developer has applied for permission to replace a mobile home park with luxury apartments. Will anyone on council or in the community advocate that the developer contribute to affordable housing?” Seriously? Mobile homes are the affordable housing in Chapel Hill. Unfortunately, they are so lightly regulated that a great number are used for affordable commercial storage (plumbers, electricians, etc.) which further reduces their availability for housing. When will Council begin to prioritize citizen needs over developer needs?