Raleigh OKs affordable housing, but will review policies

ccampbell@newsobserver.comMay 14, 2013 

— Despite outcry from neighbors concerned about an excess of low-income housing in South Raleigh, the Raleigh City Council on Tuesday approved funding for a new affordable housing complex in the area. But the council also agreed to review its guidelines on where the facilities can be built.

DHIC Inc., a nonprofit housing organization, will get $750,000 from the city’s affordable housing fund to build the 48-unit complex near the intersection of Tryon and Lake Wheeler roads.

Dozens of residents from the neighboring Camden Crossing neighborhood turned out to Tuesday’s council meeting to oppose the funding. They pointed to the city’s scattered-site policy, which guides the placement of affordable housing complexes. It aims to “avoid undue concentrations of assisted rental housing in minority and low-income neighborhoods” and encourage projects that renovate existing apartments.

“It is a policy, it’s on the books, and the residents should expect that it has some weight in these decisions,” said Camden Crossing resident Brandon Moore, who said the area has three complexes within a half-mile. “I don’t think this is the right site.”

The council held two extra meetings to give residents a chance to air their concerns but ultimately voted unanimously for the funding. Councilman Russ Stephenson said the new complex won’t allow students, who populate many of the rentals in Southwest Raleigh and sometimes create noise and parking problems.

“That to me is a higher standard than the open market in the area would permit,” he said. “They have much stronger background checks than the open market requires.”

DHIC director Gregg Warren said his group’s affordable housing complexes don’t generate complaints. “We feel that we’ve got a great track record of building quality, affordable housing in many parts of the city,” Warren said.

In the coming months, the council plans to review the scattered-site policy. They’ll consider how priority areas for affordable housing are determined and how neighbors are notified about the projects.

Councilwoman Mary-Ann Baldwin cautioned the council to be careful about making policy changes.

“The goal should not be to make it harder for affordable – or as I call it, workforce housing – to move forward,” she said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802 or twitter.com/RaleighReporter

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