Is $200,000 'affordable' for Durham? Developers and community advocates disagree

Monday, June 14, 2021
Is $200,000 'affordable' for Durham?
Wib Gulley with the Coalition of Affordable Housing and Transit says Durham is making strides to create affordable spaces.

A new neighborhood at Denfield Road and Hebron Street is slated to be called Hebron Village. It would feature 144 townhomes and 16 single families.

Developers say if the city approves the plan this month, the price point will start in the high $200,000.

Keith Greenwood with Level 5 Ventures in Holly Springs is one of the managers for the project.

"Based on the areas new homes for sale, our homes will be on the lower end of the scale and therefore much more accessible to a wider base of affordable buyers," he said in a statement.

But that price is outrageous to Vannessa Mason Evans, chair of the Bragtown Community Association.

Fast-paced housing market leaving some Triangle families in a housing gap

"That's just ridiculous," said Evans. "Affordable housing ain't at two and three hundred thousand dollars. Those are not affordable houses."

The historically Black neighborhood in Durham is where Evans says freed Stagville Plantation slaves took refuge and created community.

She says decedents, like herself, are feeling threatened by higher property taxes, rent payments, and home prices.

"I feel a lot of Black people feel disrespected especially those who have lived here for years who are grounded and rooted here."

Forced out: Low-income Raleigh residents feeling the crunch of real estate boom

Wib Gulley with the Coalition of Affordable Housing and Transit says Durham is making strides to create affordable spaces.

"We've got 82 units right over here at the bus station. With the county governments help we're going to have 377 affordable units on East Main Street going to east downtown," said Gulley. "So there's a good number of things being done that just touches the surface, but the problem is it's really a drop in the bucket compared to what we need to be doing in Durham."

Some residents opposed to Raleigh's East End Market now give green light

Under a 2019 housing bond approved by voters, Durham will provide help under its initiative: "Forever Home, Durham" plan.

It will:

  • Build 1,600 new affordable housing units and preserve 800 affordable rental units
  • Move 1,700 homeless individuals and households into permanent housing
  • Provide 400 affordable homeownership opportunities for first-time homebuyers
  • Help 3,000 low-income renters and homeowners remain in or improve their homes

Wake County currently has a deficit of nearly 60,000 affordable homes. Last year, the county created and restored nearly 449 affordable units. That number is projected to increase to 567 this year.

Next year, the City of Raleigh expects to provide nearly 600 affordable spaces for rent, including opportunities for home buying.

Wake and Durham have financial assistance programs to help keep families in their homes like the House Wake! COVID-19 Financial Assistance Program and the Durham Emergency Rental Assistance Program.