Geary Says Raleigh Needs More Affordable Housing Initiatives

February, 16, 2009, by David

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Citizen advocate Bob Geary at the Independent delved into affordable housing and the lack of it in Wake County last week. Geary cites North Hills massive redevelopment and increased density as problematic in that there was no requirement of affordable housing in exchange for the density increase.  This is particularly problematic because in North Hill’s phase II much of the land was previously affordable housing.  Geary lays out the facts:

A new housing analysis published by the Wake County Human Services Department shows roughly 46,000 Raleigh households (35 percent) are paying too much for their housing, using the generally accepted federal standard that housing should cost no more than 30 percent of family income. The main reason: There’s not enough housing available at lower prices.

Most of those overpaying are renters with incomes below 50 percent of the median household income for the Raleigh-Cary metro area, which in 2006 was $69,800 a year. At the low end, for families with incomes below 30 percent of the median—$21,000 a year or less—the housing shortage is growing by some 1,300 units annually, according to the county’s analysis.

And then talks about what other cities are doing to encourage affordable housing:

About 400 communities around the country have inclusionary zoning ordinances, but only a handful are in North Carolina. Davidson, the college town near Charlotte, was the first to adopt a mandatory ordinance in 2001. Chapel Hill has a non-mandatory program with guidelines that encourage developers to include 15 percent affordable units in rezoning applications, which are otherwise not likely to be approved.

Pushing Raleigh on affordable housing initiatives

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DevelopmentBob GearyNorth HillsRaleigh PlanningAffordable Housing


  • RaleighRob
    02/16 01:57 PM

    Another good article by Geary.  I agree this is a big problem in our city…and throughout the Triangle.

    Heck, even forgetting “affordable” housing…I’d be happy just to find housing that isn’t ridiculously astronomically overpriced!  :-P

  • Drew B
    02/16 02:47 PM

    An interesting article.

    Non-mathy readers should note that $69,800 is the median income, not the 50% of median income. It’s below $34,900 that “Most of those overpaying” make.

  • Chris
    02/19 02:34 PM

    First of all, I have to believe that the current downturn is making housing more affordable, not less. 

    Second, why should my tax dollars go into somebody else’s rent?  If living in Raleigh is too expensive, there are plenty of other places to live.  Go to Durham or Johnston counties.

    Third, considering the problems that the school system is having with low-income students, why on earth would anybody want to increase their number?

  • RaleighRob
    02/19 03:28 PM

    First- yes you would think so but I’ve been looking and it ain’t happening as much as one would expect. 

    Second- The article is mainly supporting requirements that developers mix in less-expensive homes.  Says nothing about using tax dollars.  Also, if I work in Raleigh, I should be able to live in Raleigh.  The less people have to drive to work, the better for society as a whole (environment, energy, congestion, etc etc).

    Third- Their numbers would not increase overall.  They would be more evenly spread across all parts of the school system, thus eliminating the need for bussing.

  • Enigma
    02/21 11:37 AM

    This article speaks to the facts and resulting unintended consequences of mandated inclusionary zoning laws.

  • J
    02/22 02:22 AM

    The biggest loss to low income housing was the demolition of Halifax Court behind Peace College. This was a TOTAL tragedy. I lived their almost 40 years before they tore it down. I really miss it.

  • J
    02/22 02:25 AM

    I think another reason housing is too high is because so many people moved here from other states bringing too much change. I am a proud native of Raleigh, born here in 1960. Things were great here through the 80’s then the outsiders started taking over.

    I live in Raleigh not the triangle as so many call it now.

  • Enigma
    02/22 06:13 PM

    J - Halifax Court sounds like it was a great place to live.

  • J
    02/22 11:17 PM

    Enigma, Halifax Court got a little rough in the 80’s but I personally never had a problem with crime on the terrace I lived at. All the people on my end were good people.

    We moved there in 1967 when I was 7 years old and I had a lot of fond memories growing up there. I remember when I was 12 or so a bunch of us would sell coke bottles for the deposit and walk to the ambassador theater. We had fun sneaking up to the closed balcony and watching the movie from high up. It was a thrill! I miss those days.

  • Micah
    02/23 01:11 AM

    Please correct me if I am wrong, but wasn’t Halifax Court government subsidised housing, not low-income housing?

    If so, wouldn’t the idea have been to reserve these type of dwelling units for people to live in for finite amounts of time until they can afford to move elsewhere, and therefore move out of the city/county tax coffers? 

    Isn’t living there for 40 years a bit of an abuse of the system?

  • Enigma
    02/23 07:21 PM

    In reality all low-income housing is subsidized, either by the government (taxpayers), or by the non-subsidized homeowners in a particular development.  Either way, someone pays for the cost of low-income housing.

  • J
    02/24 02:41 AM

    Micah, let me ask you this, when a person is a waitress or some other low paying job for 20 or 30 years (and like their job) how do you expect them to ever afford to live elsewhere?

    Some people have bought mobile homes or rented them as affordable housing but most mobile home parks don’t exist anymore as they are an eyesore to the more affluent people.

    There will never be 100% of the population in any city, state or country that make enough to live on their own. In other words there will always be LOTS of lower income people. No economy could sustain everyone being affluent. And some people actually like working class jobs.

    Look at so many people sharing homes or apts to make ends meet. Section 8 or subsidized housing is a great idea for lower income working class people to be able to make ends meet without living huddled up with room mates.

    Some people lived in halifax court since it built, what? 60 years ago? No one ever told them it was supposed to be temporary. They were only told they had to get out so it could be torn down to build housing that makes the area look better. What a crock!

    You know what? I bet none of the people that voted to demolish those apts were even raised in Raleigh, they just want us to be like everyone else every where else, it’s a shame.

  • J
    02/24 02:56 AM

    Oh, to clarify a little more. Halifax Ct was subsidized based on income. If you made over a certain amount each moth you couldn’t live there. And your rent was based on a percentage of monthly income.

    I don’t believe for a minute that anyone that lived there for years or decades abused the system as the system allowed them to live there as long as they (me included) wanted.

    The system was never set up to be temporary or for people to live there a finite amount of time. It may have been a good idea for a governmental/expenditure point of view but it was never created or promoted that way.

    Why did I like it? Not because of cheapness, but because when someone grows up in a place from when they were a little kid it feels like home. Even if you hate what it is you are drawn to it as it makes one feel comfortable.
    When I was growing up there they had a community center for kids, horseshoes, basketball courts, activities, etc. It was a nice place back then.

    Now the area and it’s new homes/buildings look so cold and sterile I wouldn’t want to live in any of them. 

    Fayetteville Street lost it’s homeiness back in the late 70’s/early 80’s too. It also used to be a nice area with people walking about or sitting in capital square feeding the pigeons. It was the in place to be.

  • NC guy
    02/26 07:14 AM

    People living in subsidized housing like Halifax court for 40 years is absolutely abuse of the system. To describe it any other way is dillusional.

  • Chris
    02/26 01:52 PM

    Affordable housing doesn’t mean low income people. It also includes middle income people. We have trouble finding affordable housing in this city we work in, too. And if, as another Chris suggested on this board, those who work here but cannot afford to live here should move, who would do those middle income and low income jobs for those of you who can afford to pay for services provided by those same people?

    My point is even highly skilled and credentialed professionals making less than $50,000 have trouble finding nice housing in nice areas that’s not overpriced.

  • J
    03/01 12:14 PM

    NC guy, how can people living in a place like Halifax Ct be an abuse of the system when the housing laws/rules say it’s ok? The housing authority has strict rules they must follow for all tenets. Don’t like the way it is? Then work to get the laws/rules changed. But don’t berate people for following the rules!

    Which ever Chris said people that can not afford to live here should move is full of it. People that were born and raised here should not have to move. I bet he’s not even a native to Raleigh or NC so he shouldn’t move here telling us how to live.

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