David Schwartz: Chapel Hill residents pay for quality

January 26, 2014 

In his Jan. 12 Point of View piece “The rest of the story,” Michael Jacobs accuses the town of Chapel Hill of harming poor people by adopting policies that he claims create an unaffordable community. For example, he pins the blame for the high cost of housing in Chapel Hill on policies that limit the construction of new housing units.

However, the price of housing in a given community is determined not only by supply but also by demand. Demand for housing in Chapel Hill is particularly strong in part because many middle-income Triangle area parents – those who cannot afford to send their kids to private school – perceive Chapel Hill public schools to be better than those in the neighboring communities and are therefore willing to pay a premium to live in the CHCCS school district.

Should we therefore blame the high cost of Chapel Hill housing on the comparatively poor quality of Durham and Raleigh public schools? Instead of castigating the residents of Chapel Hill for the high costs we willingly pay in order to enjoy excellent schools and government services, Jacobs should instead exhort the policymakers of Durham and Raleigh to make their own schools and communities equally attractive.

David Schwartz

Chapel Hill

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