As rents keep rising and more people move to the Triangle, most local candidates are promising to address the housing crisis if they’re elected in November. But what are candidates’ actual plans to give people more affordable homes?

“This election comes at a critical time for affordable housing locally,” says Jacquie Ayala, director of Advocacy at the Habitat for Humanity of Wake County. “We know that voters are feeling and seeing the negative impacts of rising housing costs, so we want to make sure they have housing in mind at the ballot box.” 

Habitat Wake asked every local candidate about their approach to the housing crisis this month, focusing on growth, displacement, rent prices, property taxes, and racial equality. Thirty-three candidates for the Wake County Board of Commissioners, Raleigh Mayor, and Raleigh City Council responded. 

The County

Every candidate for the Wake County Board of Commissioners responded to Habitat Wake’s questionnaire. There are seven candidates running this year in Districts 1, 2, 3, and 7. Vickie Adamson, the incumbent in District 7, is running unopposed. 

Matt Calabria, the only other incumbent running for re-election this year, says Wake County has taken aggressive steps forward in addressing the housing crisis, including working with cities to enact modern zoning ordinances, building 2,500 affordable housing units in three years, and working to preserve naturally-occurring affordable housing. He plans to stay the course and expand existing programs. 

His opponent in District 2, Mark McMains, says the county should invest in tiny homes and work to unite the county’s cities and towns on the issue. 

In District 1, candidate Chanel Harris is focused on help for first-time homebuyers, including providing information on searching for a home and financial support. Her opponent, Don Mial, says he wants the county’s cities and towns to contribute to an affordable housing plan, convening a task force to develop something everyone can support. Mial is also in favor of a “housing first” approach to helping the homeless and mentions protecting the county’s water supply and green spaces. 

In District 3, candidate Irina Comer is in favor of upzoning for denser housing like duplexes and multiplexes, saying the single biggest affordable housing challenge facing Wake County is supply. Comer aims to lower property taxes and promote equitable housing access. Comer’s opponent, Cheryl Stallings, supports many of the county’s current housing policies and says she will continue to work with the federal government and local nonprofits, as well as expand existing programs. She plans to prioritize land acquisition and lowering property taxes. 

The City 

As expected, current Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin made the case that the city’s policies are working to address the housing crisis and touted the city’s success over the past two years following the passage of the city’s housing bond. Terrance Ruth, her primary challenger, promised to advocate for underrepresented Raleigh residents, including those facing higher property taxes and displacement. DaQuanta Copeland, the third candidate for mayor, had brief answers but promised to lobby the state for a cap on rental increases.

Most of the city council candidates are divided into two camps—those who support upzoning to allow developers to build denser housing and those who those who oppose the city’s pro-growth strategies, arguing council members should do more to protect existing single-family neighborhoods. Look at their answers to Habitat Wake’s questionnaire here

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