Last week for the web, Lena Geller reported on allegations from Habitat for Humanity of Durham to the Durham City Council and Board of County Commissioners that a local builder used Habitat’s name to advance the SCAD amendments, which will go before the council in a public hearing.

We received, via email, the following note from Bill Ahern, the former CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Wake County and the founder and board chair of Incipio Homes, saying we overstated the importance of Habitat’s board signing off on the nonprofit being named as co-applicant on SCAD:

I have been following your articles on the Durham SCAD Proposal and feel the need to speak out because I believe the Indy’s reporting is highly sensational, trying to make something out of nothing. At this point in this multi-year effort, the focus should be on the merits of the proposed changes to the UDO and not who approved what and when. Your latest reporting reads like the INDY is trying to turn something into a scandal as opposed to an honest effort to improve the prospects of affordable housing in Durham. 

I’ve read your latest article numerous times and it seems so much is being made out of Habitat’s now questionable approval to co-sponsor SCAD versus their support and approval of 4 specific changes. I can tell you as a former Habitat Board Chair of two other Habitat affiliates in Florida and North Carolina, and most recently as CEO of Habitat Wake, never did any of these Boards require approval of things such as UDO changes, zoning changes, and other ordinances relating to land use and construction. In fact, these types of decisions are specifically delegated to the CEO and Habitat staff. Are they discussed at Board meetings … sometimes. In this case, it certainly sounds like SCAD was discussed often by the Habitat Board and support was given.

I really don’t understand why all this time and energy is being wasted on Habitat’s co-sponsorship. A lot of time, money, and energy has already been spent on the development of the SCAD Proposal. It’s now ready for a thorough review and, hopefully, approval. Why bicker over this trivial matter when what really matters is bringing more affordable housing to Durham. I believe the SCAD proposal does that and I support it. I certainly hope more time and effort are going to be spent on the details of the SCAD Proposal itself than is being spent on arguing over co-sponsorship approvals.

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