Housing: Missing Middle text change continues to spark disapproval in Raleigh

DeJuan Hoggard Image
Wednesday, January 11, 2023
Housing: Missing Middle text change sparks disapproval in Raleigh
At odds is Raleigh's current housing crisis with the lack of available housing and the affordability of housing for lower and middle-income families.

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- Months after the City of Raleigh made a text change in its zoning ordinance to housing, there is still uproar over the edit to the ordinance's language. The change, which went into effect in early August 2022, made edits to the ordinance which includes language related to duplexes, triplexes, townhomes, apartments, cottages, and other types of denser housing options to be placed in areas that are largely single-family homes.

"The missing middle is being applied now in Raleigh without brakes or guardrails on it," said Save Our Neighborhoods Restore Raleigh member Frank Hielema. "it seems to be favoring teardowns of affordable housing and building multiple units of much more expensive housing."

At odds is the City's current housing crisis with the lack of available housing and the affordability of housing altogether for lower and middle-income families.

"It was made by a text change in which very little notice was given to the public that it was being done and it's caught many people off guard and people who don't understand," said Hielema.

The City is promoting the change as "More Housing, More Choices".

"While it goes under the appearance of more housing and more choices, it's certainly not what we're seeing so far," Hielema said. "It does not create affordable housing choices. And in fact, it leads to a loss of more affordable units. So in that, developers profit by building larger, expensive units."

In Tuesday's City Council work session, councilmembers and city staffers outlined how to address Missing Middle development in the present and coming future.

Hielema said he's been following the Missing Middle conversation for a while and Tuesday's session slipped past the group. They learned about it after ABC11 contacted them.

"As Myrick Howard of Preservation NC says 'You can't tear down a house and end up with affordable'," said Hielema, who has been very vocal on the issue. "Because you're tearing down infrastructure. Anything you build in its place that you can put on the marketplace is going to be significantly more expensive. That seems to be what's happening.

On Lyon Street in Raleigh, near Oberlin, there is a project that once completed will have three sets of duplexes near apartment homes in an area where there are mostly single-family homes.

"Houses that were bought for $500,000 are being torn down and duplexes are being built where each unit is going to be according to the Triangle Business Journal, marketed for $1.5 million. You really cut out a large segment of the population who can afford to live inside Raleigh," he said.

Instead, Save Our Neighborhoods Restore Raleigh proposes an alternative approach.

"You don't have to lose current housing to build affordable housing," Hielema said.

There will be a total of six listening sessions hosted by the City where residents can learn more and voice their support or opposition, according to Livable Raleigh.

Missing Middle also seeks to emphasize the housing types in neighborhoods that are considered high-frequency transit areas.