Raleigh leaders could update affordable housing locations

ccampbell@newsobserver.comJanuary 28, 2014 

— The city council is taking a fresh look at its rules governing where affordable housing should be built.

A council committee is working on updates to what’s known as the “scattered site” policy, which puts a higher priority on building affordable homes in wealthier areas of the city and limits government-funded housing in low-income neighborhoods.

The city’s community development department has revised its map of priority areas based on new census numbers; the current maps are based on eight-year-old data. But several council members said this month that they’d like a broader review of Raleigh’s affordable housing inventory.

Councilman Thomas Crowder said he wants to look at where federally subsidized Section 8 rentals are located, taking that into consideration as well as census numbers.

“I think that paints a different picture for a lot of these areas,” he said, adding that parts of his Southwest Raleigh districts “have become very blighted” because “Section 8 has become very damaging to the city at large.”

Crowder’s concerns about Section 8 comes as the Raleigh Housing Authority, addressing federal funding cuts, plans to convert some of its public housing units to Section 8 vouchers. The city’s number of Section 8 renters has grown by thousands over the past decade.

“We need to look at how we can address affordable housing and create more mixed-income communities,” Crowder added.

Crowder and Mayor Nancy McFarlane said transit should also be a major factor in where affordable housing is built, because tenants who don’t have cars will need easy access to jobs. “To me, it’s part of the larger conversation about transportation,” McFarlane said.

Southeast Raleigh neighborhood leader Danny Coleman also thinks that should be part of the discussion. “I don’t want to preclude affordable housing from being construction near the high-growth areas or the high-transit areas,” he said.

The council isn’t taking any action yet and will take up the issue again in the coming months. “I think we’ve got a lot of work ahead of us here,” Crowder said.

Campbell: 919-829-4802; Twitter: @RaleighReporter

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