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Re: “Is Durham’s affordable-housing punt an epic fail?

While we are referencing unfair comments, how 'bout this one:

""I just truly believe that if we don't use public land downtown for affordable housing, if we don't use that, it will be an absolutely EPIC failure," - Schewel

Durham is going to be OK if 100 units of reduced-AMI housing aren't built in his one location. Let's get this straight: the city is talking about giving away a multi-million dollar asset for free. That is NOT what prudent elected officials do. There is a cost to that decision (less money for sidewalks, police, trees, etc.), and I applaud Council for being prudent about it.

Also, since the City of Durham is determined to get into the development business, wouldn't it be prudent to take that same $2-3million it could get from RFP'n the bus station land and go look to leverage more opportunity? Why isn't that part of the discussion?

These "Do something! Do anything!" attitudes lead a lot of really bad decision making.

11 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 09/16/2015 at 2:09 PM

Re: “The moment when you realize your entire city is unaffordable

$70,000 says she comes up with the same three stale solutions Affordable Housing Consultants ALWAYS come up with:

1) raise the minimum wage,
2) control rents, and
3) mandate inclusive zoning requiring developers to build lower-income units.

Trite. Blah, Blah, Blah. Save the $70,000.

5 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 08/17/2015 at 11:38 AM

Re: “Raleigh’s Downtown Experience Plan exposes weaknesses in transit, housing

"Today, Austin's highways are in "absolute gridlock," Gaylord says. "They have no real way to deal with that ...making matters worse, last year (Raleigh) voters rejected city leaders' second attempt at establishing an expensive light-rail system..."

Austin has a light rail. And it did NOT solve their traffic problems.
So, maybe I missed it. Why do you think Raleigh is any different?

6 likes, 6 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 05/06/2015 at 1:21 PM

Re: “After 15 years, Chapel Hill is still trying to get a grip on its housing problem

“I would be more sympathetic for housing advocates if they actually pushed for more housing.”


Ignore the “experts”. Ignore the “programs”. Ignore the “advocates”. This is economics 101, people: Increased demand + restricted supply = LESS affordable housing. Period.

Affordable housing exists in every community in the US where development is allowed to meet demand. Cities that severely restrict development, like Chapel Hill, foster growing affordability problems. Chapel Hill has been anti-development for at least 30 years; it’s naïve to think it will ever change.

9 likes, 1 dislike
Posted by Durham Independents on 03/19/2015 at 10:51 AM

Re: “Durham development: What's being built where and who can afford it?

Irv919 is right. This is a completely manufactured problem. A non-story. These downtown units being built are mid to upper market and were not built to meet HUD's (or Indy's) definition of affordable housing.

Stay tuned for next week's feature by Indy's cutting edge research team: "The Average Citizen Cannot Afford To Eat at Vin Rouge Every Night", and "Bus Drivers Do Not Make Enough to Buy a Lexus"

7 likes, 8 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 08/18/2014 at 6:05 PM

Re: “Affordable housing takes a hit in Chapel Hill

You imply town leaders are the ones working to solve the problem, but fail to recognize that it is town leaders who CREATED the problem.

In Chapel Hill, you can't build up and you can't build out. So, by design, elected leaders have created an artificial island, inflating prices by restricting supply. As all zoning and land-use restrictions do, these policies benefit the current stakeholders (property owners) at the expense of future ones (renters, those in the lowest quintiles, those who hope to one day own).

'Inclusionary zoning' is the latest fad among planners and policy makers who somehow fail to recognize that requiring developers to sell some % of units at a LOSS, forces them to RAISE prices on the other units. Thus, it makes housing LESS affordable for all but a lucky few. It adds to the problem. It does the exact opposite of what it's intended to do.

For the very very very few who get to live in these affordable units, they just hit the lottery. They are getting a mid-market product for a sub-market price. Those advocating such solutions are celebrating lottery winners, not solving any problem.

So long as Chapel Hill remains anti-development, affordable housing will remain under-provided. No silver-bullet policy or tinkering by the 'experts' is going to change that.

18 likes, 2 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 04/29/2013 at 12:00 PM

Re: “Some facts about affordable housing

Jane -

A few points.

First, living alone is not a constitutional right. Those who make minimum wage and choose to live alone are going to be housing-burdened. This shouldn't come as a shock to anyone. Many in Durham do so by choice; that is, they choose to be housing-burdened because they decide it is superior to having a roommate or living with family. In fact communal living is an affordable housing strategy that is often discounted. Hispanic laborers do it all over town, often breaking antiquated and anti-affordable housing laws that restrict maximum occupants when they are not related. Other cultures shun communal of living, housing burden is the result. It's a choice to live alone, and in dramatic numbers people are Going Solo - (see the book by Eric Klinenberg)- but that doesn't mean private decisions to live alone are a policy problem.

Second, rent is not coming down at all, in fact the opposite is happening. Why? Because demand is exceeding supply, and increasingly stringent land-use policies are making it difficult to find equilibrium. This will continue to push housing prices higher, benefiting current land owners at the expense of future land owners. If you do not own a house in Durham but hope to in the future, you suffer from anti-development efforts. It screws you. The harder we make it to build, the less affordable things become (See Carrboro & Chapel Hill, Development Practices).

Finally, your question "It is less a question of does this housing exist than it is are people being paid enough to afford it. And if they're not, shouldn't rent come down accordingly?" concurs with my main point: this is a demand problem. You can build all the affordable housing you want. If people can't qualify, they can't execute, and no problem is solved. So the problem you outline is a jobs and means issue, not a housing issue.

Charles Buki, a revitalization expert consulting on Durham's Southside and Chapel Hill's Northside, is a leading voice on the idea that bad policy results from the misunderstanding of affordable housing as a supply problem.

Builders will continue to build affordable housing (mostly via sprawl, since that's the only viable option in Durham). And today's new homes becomes tomorrow's affordable homes. So long as elasticity is present (Atlanta, Texas, NC), housing prices stay affordable (averaging 2x AMI). So long as it is restricted (SF, LA, NYC, Portland) it becomes unaffordable.

3 likes, 0 dislikes
Posted by Durham Independents on 03/26/2013 at 10:27 AM

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