The Raleigh City Council did something really big last month while most of us were too busy panicking over the pandemic and police brutality protests to notice.

The council’s June 2 vote set into motion a series of further votes, public hearings, and finally a referendum that will ask taxpayers to support an $80 million housing bond on the ballot this fall. 

It’s $15 million shy of what Durham voters passed last year and a far cry from Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin’s $325 million parks and housing bond “moonshot,” which was abruptly canceled by coronavirus, but it’s more than the city has invested in housing in the last two decades. (Since 2000, the city has issued $50 million in housing bonds.)

So while it’s no moonshot, it’s definitely a start.  

On Tuesday (after the INDY goes to print), the Council will take a second vote, perfunctory in nature, to notice a public hearing and introduce the bond’s orders.

The fine print says the bond will mostly split between new housing projects that leverage federal tax credits and partnerships with the private sector. It will also go to purchasing land along transit corridors and financial assistance for prospective and existing homeowners.

In May, the Affordable Housing Bond Advisory Committee recommended a bond as such: $28 million toward constructing housing in partnership with the private sector, $24 million toward low-income affordable-housing tax-credit projects, and $16 million for land banking. The remaining $12 million would be split between down payment assistance programs and financial assistance for homeowners. 

While those buckets could still be reallocated, most of the work moving forward will involve nailing down policies for how funding will be applied, and who will benefit the most. 

Councilmember Corey Branch believes the city should prioritize residents in the most need—those who earn less than 30 percent of the area median income. 

“What we’re working on is all the policies and things that we’re going to ask staff to really drill down on. Focusing on 30 percent and below is really the part we’re going to look at holistically across the five categories,” Branch says. “Some of this may not be all about the amount of money we put in, but how we can improve our processes and procedures to shorten the time frame from submittal to construction. So that is something we will look at as well.”

Council member Nicole Stewart echoed Branch, saying that the next step is to take a close look not only at policies but also at existing policy loopholes such as the lack of available Section 8 housing in the city.

“The conversation is about priorities, and it’s about where we’re spending this money,” Stewart says. “ There’s some who think we need to be focusing more on that deepest need in the community. Then there’s others who talk about getting as many units on the ground as possible because even those with the biggest need can’t get [housing] if they have a voucher.” 

SIDEBAR:

June 2 

Vote 1: Set dollar amount

June 16 

Vote 2: Introduce bond orders, notice public hearings

July 7 

Vote 3: Adopt bond purpose and amount and public hearing

Nov. 3 

Election Day:

Vote on the bond

Dec. 1 

Vote 4: Declare results of the referendum 


Follow Raleigh News Editor Leigh Tauss on Twitter or send an email to ltauss@indyweek.com

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One reply on “Raleigh’s $80 Million Housing Bond Set in Motion”

  1. It’s grossly unethical, outright crooked, that the person who presides as mayor is also the business development director for a major developer in the same city.

    Until and unless she resigns from either the mayor’s office or Barnhill construction, Raleigh voters should say NO to any bond where Mary-Ann Baldwin stands to gain financially. Corruption like this must not stand.

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