Raleigh Mayor Nancy McFarlane supports tax boosts if she deems them worthy. But the mayor brings a sensible calm to many discussions, including one on a proposal from a couple of council members, Corey Branch and Mary-Ann Baldwin, to boost the city’s property tax by 1 cent to help fund affordable housing.
There’s no question the city needs such housing, but there are some questions in how to pay for it. Branch and Baldwin say a tax boost would raise enough money for more rental units and more loans for homeowners wanting to rehabilitate existing housing.
Larry Jarvis, the city’s head of Housing and Neighborhood Development, notes that the city’s reliance on federal money for housing funds may be risky, as Washington is not as interested in the housing issue.
McFarlane said the city should look to new ways to protect affordable housing from gentrification, which drives up prices. “We can’t change market conditions,” the mayor said, “but is there some way that people who are involved in the market can participate with us and help build more affordable units?”
If there’s not a way, there should be. Developers and builders are profiting mightily, for example, by the boom in apartment and condo development in the city. It ought to be feasible for the city, through zoning or additional fees, to raise money from those who are reaping the benefits from the city’s growth.
That kind of discussion is at least preferable to going immediately to an additional tax on all homeowners.