Durham Housing Authority’s oldest public housing community project will not be redeveloped with Housing Bond funds.
Durham voters will be asked to support a $95 million housing bond this November. City of Durham leaders claim that the bond referendum passage is critical to improving homelessness services and tax relief programs as well as establishing necessary funds for creating and preserving affordable housing projects. Proponents of the housing bond tout more funding for eviction diversion, employment training, and eliminating restrictions on homeowners to build additional housing options on their property.
Bond opponents believe that Durham’s affordable housing crisis requires a bigger ask of taxpayers. Many opponents voice a need to imagine bolder, more innovative ways to decrease food deserts, increase low-income entrepreneurship, and incorporate green technology in our city’s affordable housing plans.
It is estimated that the bond will cost the average Durham homeowner between $40 and $60 annually; in return, these revenues will lead to more than 2,800 affordable rental units and for-sale opportunities. Even without the $95 million in bond revenue, city officials confirm that affordable housing projects will move forward, but these projects will not keep pace with the rate of displacement and the city’s growing affordability needs.
One notable provision confirmed by Anthony Scott, Chief Executive Officer of the Durham Housing Authority (DHA), is the $2.5 million commitment in bond funds to train DHA residents in construction skills. This will help DHA residents become more marketable candidates in finding meaningful employment in connection with the construction of more affordable housing in Durham. This provision is aimed at providing well-paying jobs to DHA residents while also providing experience and skills that can serve DHA residents long after the projects are complete.
One growing concern is over the order in which certain properties will be developed. Most of the properties slated to be redeveloped with bond funds will be in downtown, even though the largest properties in dire need of redevelopment are not in downtown Durham proper. DHA properties such as Fayette Place, McDougald Terrace, and Hoover Road will not be redeveloped with funds from the housing bond. McDougald Terrace is one of the oldest public housing communities in the state of North Carolina, yet it did not make the cut. DHA spokespeople note that it makes more fiscal sense to wait until market conditions improve before prioritizing McDougald Terrace. Still, a growing number of community members are unsatisfied with this rationale.
City leaders have committed to having multiple public hearings and meetings throughout the fall for Durham residents to voice their concerns.
Keep an eye out for People’s Alliance Action Alerts for more information on events and resources to help you to make a more informed decision around the $95 million affordable housing bond referendum.
Disclaimer: This blog post represents the opinion of the author and not of the Durham People’s Alliance nor of the People’s Alliance Economic Inequality Team.