Nearly every candidate for the Raleigh City Council will gather Thursday to discuss affordable housing in a forum hosted by ONE Wake, a community group advocating for property tax relief. 

The forum, taking place a month before the midterm elections, will include mayoral candidates Mary-Ann Baldwin, Terrance Ruth, and DaQuanta Copeland, as well as 19 candidates for the city council. Four candidates are not attending—Whitney Hill, running in District A; Jakob Lorberblatt, in District B; Todd Kennedy, in District D; and David Knight, the incumbent in District E. 

ONE Wake has been fighting for property tax relief for Raleigh homeowners for more than a year. As home values increase, property taxes for longtime residents have also skyrocketed, creating a burden for some low-income homeowners. Historically African American neighborhoods, which are now gentrifying, have been particularly hard-hit. Since 2016, homeowners in Southeast Raleigh have seen property taxes rise between 65 and 151 percent. 

Wake County Manager David Ellis says the county commission is considering creating a new assistance program proposed by ONE Wake dubbed the “Homeowner Care Fund. A $5 million pilot program is a “board priority for next year’s budget,” he says. 

The county is also considering budget increases for its:

— Crisis Intervention Program, which provides heating and cooling assistance (an increase $1 million would serve an additional 1,667 households);

— home repair program (an increase of $1.5 million would serve another 15 households); and

— Affordable Home Development program (an increase of $1.6 million would serve another 15 households). 

This week, ONE Wake will ask Raleigh city council candidates if they plan to make an equivalent investment in housing cost relief if elected to office.

“Participating homeowners see this effort as a continuation of their parents’ civil rights struggles in Raleigh, and across Wake County,” a ONE Wake news release stated. 

“I’ve got to carry on my Mom and Dad’s legacy,” said homeowner Joni Coburn in the release. 

The forum is 7:30-9:30 p.m. at St. Ambrose Episcopal Church, 813 Darby Street, Raleigh.

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