CARRBORO — Three weeks after Alderman Sammy Slade proposed the Carrboro Board of Aldermen discuss eminent domain, board members showed little interest in the idea.
The idea of using eminent domain to purchase the Collins Crossing apartments, formerly Abbey Court, has surfaced in the towns email correspondence over the past several months.
At Tuesday nights meeting, Alderwoman Jacquie Gist strongly objected to the towns using eminent domain, which empowers local governments to obtain private property for public use.
Gist said the cost of purchasing and managing affordable housing is unrealistic for Carrboro.
You have to think of whose pocket the funds are coming from and who it is benefiting, she said.
On April 12, local activists and some Collins Crossing residents held the third protest in the past six months against rent increases at the condominiums.
Two bedroom units now start at $740 per month, according to the complex website. Thats about $200 more than some tenants say theyve been paying, but management says rent will increase only $25 a month for existing tenants who renew their contracts.
In response to complaints from residents and concern about declining affordable housing options in town, the aldermen asked town staff about the legality and cost of acquiring Collins Crossing by eminent domain.
Gist expressed concern about the towns ability to manage affordable housing without a specific town department or authority, such as the Department of Housing in Chapel Hill, which handles affordable rental housing in Chapel Hill.
Mayor Mark Chilton agreed that eminent domain may not be a realistic possibility.
It is a lot of work and it is a big responsibility, and it comes with a lot of risks, he said.
Chilton proposed the town look into the Low Income Housing Tax Credit Program, which gives private investors an incentive to invest in affordable rental housing.
Developers earn federal housing tax credits to build qualified projects, and they then sell these credits to investors who fund their projects, according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
The units can be rented at below-market rate since investors reduce the developers debt and offset the cost of the investment.
Chilton said the town has few options to eliminate the problems facing Collins Crossing, but can look at ways to prevent these problems from happening at other complexes.