Racial & Economic Justice
The Jackson Center’s Executive Director, Della Pollock said it better than I could in a recent letter to Northside neighbors and friends:
In its ongoing series on affordable housing, the Town of Chapel Hill hosted Michelle Winters, senior visiting fellow at the Urban Land Institute’s Terwilliger Center for Housing last Tuesday to talk about the policy tools and best practices for affordable and workforce housing.
Winters began her presentation discussing housing trends nationwide and specifically talked about the recent surge in renter households that is expected to continue into the future. The most important takeaway: Half of all renter households are at least moderately cost burdened, meaning they spend at least 30% of their income on rent. This statistic highlights why housing professionals have broadened their discussion of what affordable means in recent years to include a range, all the way from homelessness to just below market rate. As the town’s executive director for housing and community development, Loryn Clark, put it: housing needs to be affordable for everybody.
I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the makeup of interest groups and other constituencies in Chapel Hill lately, and how it reflects upon the diversity of our community. I focus on Chapel Hill, because, well, that’s the local entity I spend the most time following. But the same questions I ask below should be asked at any level of government, and of any organization we associate ourselves with.
This isn’t a criticism of a specific group. A lot of organizations I’ve been involved with through the years wouldn’t score perfectly on this test. The point isn’t to make anyone feel bad, it’s to ask all of us to do better.
I believe strongly in meritocracy, but meritocracy cannot exist in an ecosystem without diversity. To find the best ideas, you need to start by collecting the most ideas.
Anyway, without further ado, here are ten questions I hope that everyone organizing a political group, civic organization, or public input session asks themselves.
This column originally appeared in the Chapel Hill News on Sunday, January 25.
By Travis Crayton & Molly De Marco
In 2014, “density” might well have been the word of the year in local government in Orange County.
Much of the debate about development in our communities boils down to preferences and emotions about the scale and density of proposed projects. (How tall? How many new units per acre?)
In 2015, the density debate is likely to rage on. But what is it about greater density that evokes such strong opinions?
Change in any facet of life is hard. When it comes to change in our neighborhoods, this is especially true. We become accustomed to a particular way of life and patterns of behavior, and we find comfort in these routines. But sometimes change is necessary. As a community professing to hold progressive values, such as environmental sustainability, socioeconomic diversity, and livability, we sometimes should embrace change to uphold and live out these values.
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