bchaney | Indy Week

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Re: “The INDY’s Endorsements for Orange County Schools and Affordable Housing Bonds

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.

Bethany Chaney
Alderman, Town of Carrboro
Chair, Town of Carrboro Affordable Housing Task Force

38 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by bchaney on 10/20/2016 at 11:12 PM

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