Does the Cost of Housing Tell the Whole Story? Not in Carrboro

For years now, residents and elected officials alike have expressed concern over the affordability of housing in Orange County and the Triangle. Durham’s “Pennies for Housing” and Chapel Hill’s recent “Affordable Housing Bond” attest to the central role housing affordability has played in civic discourse in our area. Moreover, research suggests that the cost of an area’s housing is among the most prominent variables that factor into people’s decisions on where settle.

Which is why it’s nice to see articles that help us make investment decisions. Take a recent one by Derrick Miller published on the SmartAsset site. Miller uses the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)’s definition of “housing cost-burdened”—i.e., when people spend more than 30% of their income on housing—to estimate the percentage of folks in various U.S. cities who are burdened by their housing costs.  His calculations reveal that Newark, NJ is the nation’s “most severely housing cost-burdened” city in the U.S. and that Cary, NC is the least housing cost-burdened city. 

Community and Change in Carrboro: a Student Renter Perspective

I opened the mailer and threw it away. The return address was “Planning Department, Town of Carrboro”. As a city planning student, I thought I would have been more intrigued. But the notice was for a zoning change in a neighborhood I knew nothing about, despite the fact I live just across the train tracks in a North Greensboro Street apartment.

I live with 7 housemates. When I tell that to people, sometimes their mouths go agape.

“Seven?!” they’ll wonder or say aloud in surprised disbelief.

“Yeah, seven, and I like it that way.”

The Changing Face of Neighborhoods: Should we Blame Students?

What do we owe as a community to our marginalized, historic neighborhoods in a community built around a university? What do we owe to students from a university on which our communities thrive? Should we view students moving into existing residential neighborhoods as a threat or should we expect this change and manage for it?

The neighborhoods closest to the university are the most impacted by students as they move in. Impacts include more noise, foot and car traffic and sometimes more trash. They also result in co-learning, resource sharing and greater vibrancy. The challenge is that many of those neighborhoods are historically African American neighborhoods that have already faced cumulative impacts of systemic racism, dis-investment and gentrification.

Orange County At-Large County Commissioner Results

On Friday, the Orange County Board of Elections finished sorting the early voting and vote-by-mail ballots back to the precincts, and here are the Democratic primary results.

May 8 Primary Turnout (It's Not What You Think)

I've seen online comments like this one on the CHALT blog:

"Only 20% of registered voters actually voted. There are nearly 106,000 registered voters in Orange County. For this primary, fewer than 20,000 voted. Less than 20%! Surely more than 20% care about our schools, law enforcement, and the county budget."

While it's surely true that 20% is a disappointing primary turnout, let's compare off-year (non-presidential) primary turnout, and remember that 2018 was the first primary since 1958 where there was NO state-wide race or state-wide referendum on the ballot to drive turnout -- and it turns out that 2018 had an unusually HIGH Democratic primary turnout.

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