Racial & Economic Justice

Increased Density is the Right Choice

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.

A Noteworthy Agenda Item

On tonight’s consent agenda at the Orange County Board of Education is a resolution in support of immigrant children in our community. The resolution is similar to those already adopted by the Carrboro Board of Aldermen, Orange County Board of Commissioners, and Chapel Hill Town Council.

Local Law Enforcement Begins Hard Work Toward Racial Equity

It is clear from recent police forums and from experiences shared by people of color in our communities that we have a serious problem with racial equity in policing in Orange County. The most recent example is a guest column by Stephanie Perry in Sunday’s Chapel Hill News (12/21/14). Perry serves with me on the board of Orange County Justice United. We heard other stories like this during the Carrboro community forum on policing in October.

Law enforcement behavior that is disproportionately affecting communities of color is unacceptable to me. It is especially troubling to see that these disparities exist in our communities regardless of how enlightened we think we are. I am cautiously optimistic about the steps I see the Carrboro and Chapel Hill Police Departments taking.

Carrboro

Family Success Alliance chooses 2 communities to focus poverty fight

Orange County elected officials and health department staff have recongized the immediate need to address poverty in our county. As a result, the Orange County Family Success Alliance has been launched, modeled on the Harlem Children's Zone. The Orange County Health Department used health and school system data to select six zones with the highest need. More information can be found here. Each zone held community meetings to glean information for their applications. They then made short presentations and fielded questions. The Family Success Alliance Advisory Council developed a rubric for scoring of the applications. Below is a collection of tweets that summarize the presentations and selection process carried out on Tuesday, December 16th.

Community Organizing to Improve Housing Conditions in Orange County

Extensive mold and other serious maintenance issues, unannounced inspections, living with no water, play equipment removed, violence, disrepect by management, inability to use shared resources, children not allowed to play outside.....

Would you be surprised to know that these are just some of the complaints coming from our neighbors who live in affordable housing complexes throughout Orange County (Chapel Hill, Carrboro, and Hillsborough)?

Orange County Justice United is partnering with residents in all of these complexes to organize the community, conduct neighborhood audits to acertain the extend of the issues, present these findings to management, and have the issues addressed.

The Gateway Village Apartments in Hillsborough is one such housing complex. A story about our work together can be found here.

We know that there is a shortage of affordable housing in our communities. We must work to ensure that the affordable housing that is available, is welcoming unless we want to be a community of the wealthy.

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