Regarding Courtney Napier’s piece, “History Has Its Eyes on the New Raleigh City Council,” I appreciate the opportunity to respond in order to further point attention to the important issues raised and correct the record on a few fronts, in persistent hope that we can find common ground to build towards a Raleigh for all.
First, a few corrections: YIMBY Raleigh is not an organization, a group, a PAC, or a campaign. It is a website and social media accounts run by one person—me. No one else posts to those pages, funds the activities, or works on the content. I have worked on the project for two years without pay because I wanted to see better leaders on Raleigh City Council.
I am not volunteering my time and my money to support progressive Democrats for the Raleigh City Council to deploy an alleged secret Republican takeover of the council, but I can explain why I supported most of the candidates who prevailed in this month’s elections.
I supported progressives for the city council because we share the belief that the central problem facing our community is housing affordability, and because we agree that a false scarcity of supply caused by antiquated restrictions on building new housing is causing prices to spike as demand for new housing increases in a growing city.
We have to address our supply problem if we are going to fix our affordability problem.
Importantly, Napier is correct to note that gentrification and displacement are ills that are afflicting our most vulnerable communities. She is right that unscrupulous investors are preying on people to try to get them to sell their homes for less than they are worth and that Southeast Raleigh is being targeted. That’s why I have personally advocated for the city of Raleigh to hire a real estate appraiser who can be specifically deployed to help people understand what their property is worth before they decide to accept an offer to sell.
And she is right that building more housing alone cannot alleviate the current crisis. For the lowest-income earners in our community, subsidies will be necessary to bridge the gap that the market will not fill on its own. The alternative is turning our backs on our neighbors and adding to our city’s homeless population.
It is critical to also name and add that these problems are caused by the very same factors that are causing the affordable housing crisis in Raleigh. Once segregated by law, disinvested, and discriminated against, neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh are now a target for redevelopment because the predominantly white, wealthier neighborhoods inside the Beltline have made it essentially impossible to build new housing that might open up the opportunity for people with lesser incomes and people of color to move in next door.
The twin legacies of segregation and discrimination are alive and well in NIMBYism in Raleigh today.
Raleigh has over the course of decades unfortunately earned its place as one of the worst cities in the country for social mobility—the ability to get ahead—and income inequality. There is no solution to closing the wealth gap that does not involve fixing the housing gap. After all, a home is usually the largest investment people will make during their lifetimes and the single most valuable piece of an inheritance that can be left to the next generation to help them do better than their parents. And there is no solution to the housing gap that does not involve building more housing, particularly in those neighborhoods that our current laws make off-limits to those trying to move up the economic ladder.
I supported progressive Democrats for the city council because they shared my belief that the character of our neighborhoods should be defined by how inclusive, diverse and equitable they are.
And I supported them because they are pledging to build a Raleigh for all.
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Are there any other men who work for a party that smears transgender people as “pedophiles”, immigrants as “criminals”, and go out of their way to dismantle basic human rights on a daily basis that your “progressive” paper would like to platform?
Thank you Brent Woodcox! I hope this new counsel can move the city in the direction you described.
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