February 15, 2006

N&O: Options sought on cheap housing

Carrboro has a requirement that new subdivisions and multifamily projects must provide affordable housing as part of the project. The N&O reports that one developer is having a problem fitting this into his plans so he has suggested a diffferent approach:
O'Dwyer's plans call for 18 units -- 10 single family homes and 8 townhouses -- to be built on 8.65 acres along Hillsborough Road where it meets with Old Fayetteville Road.

He said allowing 15 percent affordable housing in Carrboro Greens would actually create a loss for him. And with the topography of the land, he said he can't combine the units in any other way and still yield the best outcome.

Instead, to show his support of keeping housing affordable in Carrboro, O'Dwyer offered to donate 2.5 percent of the sale price or appraised value of each unit to the Orange Community Housing and Land Trust or to some other program that helps increase affordability.

He projects that the contribution would come out to be about $162,000.

This is a approach that might work well in Dare County, rather than try to shoehorn homes into areas where the market doesn't generate them, why not charge a fee per house and use the money to build provide workforce housing either through ownership or rental subsidies. Nags Head averages around 100 new homes each year. I think the number for the county is around 500 let each home contribute $1,000 and you have a half million dollars real quick. That could supplement a lot of rent. A larger fee could do even more.
The fee could be scaled to bedrooms or house size if there are complaints about equity. This system is probably more palatable than adding about a half of a cent to the county tax rate which would raise about the same money ($750,000). We hear constant complaints about the affordablity of housing in Dare County but no one has a plan to do something about it. Levying a fee and passing it on to the Outer Banks Community Development Corp. would be a good place to start solving the problem.

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