Indy and all,
The Coalition has made its goals and plans available here:
Dear Indy, Your voting guides are generally very helpful, but I'm stunned by your recommendation to vote no on the Affordable Housing bond. Perhaps you imagine the affordable housing problem to be insurmountable, but strong coalitions in Chapel HIll and Carrboro, including Justice United, have been working hard on this with community leaders and have plans that can make a real difference, if funded. I hope you will take some time to get more informed and that new information will lead you to change your recommendation.
The link here for "all Elections" is broken.
As the Indy article recognizes, there's a serious shortage of affordable housing in Orange County. Organizations like Habitat for Humanity and the Orange County Affordable Housing coalition work effectively with other organizations and the local faith community to make progress, but they are hampered by lack of funds to acquire suitable land in an expensive market. The $5M bond would make a dent in this big problem. It's not enough, but it is a good start.
Your "no" recommendation is wrong-headed. There are organizations in place who could quickly put this money to good use helping our neighbors in Orange County. I urge you to reconsider your recommendation and to get a retraction out immediately. There's no time to lose given that early voting is already underway.
Scott Ross Koon says it succinctly, with no need for elaboration, clarification or modification. Thank you.
"Somebody ought to explain that you don't win a majority by giving up seats, especially when they are to be filled by capable public servants such as Mike Woodard. His opponent would caucus with the Republicans, that's all you need to know."
Mike Woodard has worked his whole body and soul off to be present in every school, every church, every community in every county he represents. He has not just supported Durham's needs but his district as a whole. This is the reason that he has so many endorsements. I have known Mike for nearly 30 years and every one of them has been a year of dedication to the best for all Americans, especially youth and girls. His wife is a true partner, and represents the same ideals. Mike's record on race relations is stellar and he immediately worked to repeal HB2. I cannot imagine what the Indy is thinking. Vote Woodard.
You need to get out more, INDY Week.
First, what "sea of nonprofit and construction outfits" is flooding Orange County in the name of affordable housing? Well, there's DHIC, which is building 150 affordable units in Chapel Hill. And CASA, which recently opened the Denson for veterans in Durham and just bought property to do the same in Carrboro. Oh, and Habitat for Humanity, the largest producer of restricted, affordable single family homes in the County. Hardly seedy construction outfits wasting the public's money. In fact, they'd be even more productive if the County had a dedicated source of funds to pay for hefty land acquisition and construction costs that plague the Triangle. The Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition, on which I once served as a Carrboro delegate, could have told you a lot about the amazing rental and homeownership projects its members could produce in five years if only you had "asked around" a little more.
Second, no plans? It sounds like you didn't do some basic recon into the Town of Carrboro's Board-adopted Affordable Housing Strategy and the Town of Chapel Hill's Rental Affordable Housing Strategy. Both municipalities have stepped up our funding set-asides with a Penny for Housing and other tools, but we need Orange County to step up too.
Third, your analysis demonstrates a fundamental misunderstanding of how public bond investments are made for affordable housing -- project by project. You can't just line them up like a school system Capital Improvements Program waiting for election day. Too many for-profit developers are competing for the same land or rehab opportunity, and they can afford the holding costs. This is why a County bond issue is so important -- it helps reputable developers like Habitat, CASA and DHIC compete in this environment. It also serves to attract critical private sector investments that can make up 80% or more of total development financing. That's pretty good leverage.
I expect some pretty basic journalistic curiosity and integrity from INDY Week, but this was a vacant, lazy endorsement decision. Shame on you.
Alderman, Town of Carrboro
Chair, Town of Carrboro Affordable Housing Task Force
Indy, I implore you to retract this poorly informed recommendation on the affordable housing bond.
The Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition has plans for specific projects that need to be funded. Chapel Hlil and Carrboro both have affordable housing plans, and Orange County has one in the works.
Many people rely on your endorsements. If you do not retract your "no", it may set back implementation of affordable housing plans dramatically, despite the strong need in Orange County.
Voting is already underway -- please retract your recommendation immediately.
My positive impression of INDY Week under it's new ownership came to a screeching halt yesterday. For the past year county leaders -- the commissioners, the county manager and senior staff -- have analyzed the affordable housing situation in the County and committed $2 million from their capital funds and also decided to include a $5 million bond for housing on the ballot this fall. Housing advocates were very pleased by these decisions and valued working in partnership with advocates for the school bond. County officials have reached out consistently for the input from the members of the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition. How all this activity and planning, not to mention that of the Towns of Carrboro and Chapel Hill, could have escaped INDY Week's attention is stupefying. I strongly encourage the INDY Week to reconsider its position on the proposed bond.
What I find "startling" is Indy's lack of specifics about where they supposedly "asked around" about affordable housing plans. In early September, they certainly did not respond to the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition's concerted efforts to provide them with the very information they believe does not exist.
It takes 3 clicks from a Google search to find both Chapel Hill and Carrboro's strategic plans to address affordable housing. The plans involve intimate collaborations with reputable and well-known nonprofit organizations that have collectively served Orange County for over 50 years.
This "sea of nonprofits" is comprised of tireless advocates and professionals who have dedicated their careers to building, financing, negotiating, researching, and promoting affordable housing solutions.
Aside from flippantly dismissing the work of hundreds of affordable housing professionals in a poorly researched missive, possibly causing long-term and irreparable harm to housing efforts in Orange County, where INDY is not even based, what have YOU done to advance the cause?
There has been research done to identify lands owned by towns and the county already, meaning that the money would not necessarily need to go toward purchase of land. The OCAHC and the County have worked to put forward possible plans so if funding is forthcoming, actions can be taken to realize more affordable housing in this area. It is unfortunate that the Indy has not inquired of those who would put the housing in place but made what I consider an uninformed decision. I live in an affordable housing community in Carrboro and I see where people who need to live in town cannot find affordable housing. Please reconsider your non-endorsement and support the Affordable Housing Bond.
I urge the Indy to reconsider. The Indy has long been an advocate of strategic investments in community assets, so it is stunning that it failed to acknowledge or respect the Orange County Affordable Housing Strategic Plan or any of the municipal affordable housing goals and objectives. It is wishful thinking to assume that the private sector will resolve our affordable housing crisis without a level of public investment. This bond provides the means for meaningful public/private partnerships and strategic investments where the private sector will not or cannot act. While no bond is a panacea, the failure to pass this bond will mean that our affordable housing non-profits and providers will continue to struggle to meet the minimum needs and the strategic plan will be rendered a pile of dust on the shelf. No bond means status quo which means that OC will continue it's march towards becoming a place affordable by only those able to quality for 350K+ mortgages and high rents.
It's very hard to believe that the Indy is not endorsing the Orange County Housing Bonds. With housing prices the highest in the state, with major landlords deciding not to accept Housing Choice Vouchers and with thousands of lower wage workers having to drive long distances, with the related cost and pollution, it's hard to think of any other county that needs affordable housing more. In addition, we have some terrific affordable housing providers who have demonstrated that they can spend housing bond funds effectively and efficiently. We need to given them the resources to fulfill their critically important missions. I hope the Indy has the courage to rethink this recommendation and change it to a "yes."
It's truly unfortunate that the Indy is so ill-informed on the housing bond issue. The Orange County Commissioners have been discussing their strategic plan for many months and are very close to approving a plan that will focus on very low income households. These are the people who are least served by 'the market'. They might be able to pay $350 to $500 per month in rent. They are frequently elderly or people with disabilities. They count on the nonprofit sector to provide housing, and the nonprofits need a source of subsidy funding - such as the proposed County bonds.
The Indy just got this one wrong. But Orange County voters will get it right by voting FOR the affordable housing bond.
The Indy should retract this ill informed non-endorsement immediately. Anyone who has even a passing familiarity with Orange County housing politics knows the Indy is way off base.
The last thing Orange County needs is more plans about affordable housing. The Town of Carrboro has a plan. The Town of Chapel Hill has a plan. Orange County is finalizing a five year strategic plan. The Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition has a very specific plan. We don't need more plans, we need funding!
There are unfunded affordable housing developments in the pipeline that need support NOW. As the sole visible opposition the Indy will bear full responsibility for a defeated housing bond - which will prevent Orange County from addressing our community's most pressing need.
Doucette over Woodard? makes sense given that it comes from the same newspaper that featured a cover story on soup during election season.
After reading your opposition to the Housing Bond, I have concluded that the Russians have hacked your site. It is unbelievable that you oppose this bond. Do your homework. Ask the county what the previous housing bond produced. Call the nonprofits and find out their five-year plans. Most of the time, an INDY endorsement means something, but this time it just looks like somebody was having a bad day.
ncsu_grad, by my count you've failed that quiz three times now.
Where is NC Senate District 20? (Floyd McKissick)
About the Durham bond referendums, I find it hard to support any bond referendum that results in increased taxes, given widespread waste in spending the bond money and possible corruption to some degree by those who are awarded contracts for the work, if not the county agencies themselves. Furthermore, there seems to be a lack of accountability on spending bond money; at least I cannot find any information about the degree to which the county monitors the expenditure of bond money, to ensure Durham gets its money's worth. Nor do I find any substantial details about how bond money is planned to be spent; these is little information beyond the happy superficial statements about each on the ballot. For example, consider the state's investment in PowerSchool, an abysmal system that teachers, administrators and parents ALL find objectionable.
Indy Week • 201 W. Main St., Suite 101, Durham, NC 27701 • phone 919-286-1972 • fax 919-286-4274
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