An $80M affordable housing bond for Raleigh is on the ballot. Here's what that means.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- The City of Raleigh is hoping voters back an $80 million plan to offer more affordable housing. A referendum is on the November ballot.

It would cost Raleigh residents an average of $20 a year. The city basing this estimate on the median home value of $255,744, as of January 1, 2020.

City leaders say the bond would make a huge impact and comes as Wake County warns that it needs more than 60,000 affordable housing units to keep up with demand.

Raleigh estimates the bond would fund more than 3,200 new housing units over the next five years.

Passage Home CEO Seth Friedman says the need for more affordable housing has been exacerbated by COVID-19. Friedman's company helps families find permanent, affordable places to live.

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"During the pandemic, we're getting 20 new calls a day," he said.

Friedman said many families are falling behind on rent and have been reaching out to the nonprofit . The organization prioritizes those with children. Even with all the work being put in, the latest statistics show 4,000 Wake County kids are living a transient lifestyle, in and out of hotels.

"While a hotel is shelter, there's no play space, there's no private space, there's no kitchen for healthy cooking. There's a lot of sacrifices that have to be made," said Friedman.

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Raleigh officials hope to ease the burden with this referendum, which would disburse the $80 million dollars into various buckets.

Most of it, $28 million, would go to constructing new homes with the private sector and helping folks who earn less than 30% of the area median income.

Then, $24 million would head to gap financing. Renters or first-time home buyers can benefit from this.

An additional $6 million would be set aside to rehabilitate homes people are already living in, with another $6 million for down payment assistance.

"For a low income person who's making $10 or $15 an hour, having that $5,000 or $10,000 down payment is a substantial barrier in the housing market even if you can make the monthly payment on a $150,000 (or) $175,000 house," said Raleigh Chamber of Commerce board member David Meeker.

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Last year, Passage Homes spent $750,000 helping families with rent and eviction prevention. The nonprofit said the bond would put a huge dent in a big problem.

"Every unit of affordable housing we can create is another family that we can help break the cycle of poverty," said Friedman.

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But not all of the bond money will be used immediately on affordable housing.

Raleigh officials hope to spend about $16 million to buy land along planned future transit corridors with the goal of eventually developing there.
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