Affordable Housing – How will we meet the need?

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Housing:  Growing demand is pricing many out of homes that are affordable

Wake County adds 67 people every day, and all of those people need a place to live. As Wake’s population has exploded, growing demand for housing has caused property values and rents to rise quickly in recent years especially in neighborhoods closer to urban centers. Also, apartments that have historically been affordable for working families are being torn down and replaced with high-priced luxury apartments and condos.

Housing affects economic opportunity and access to education, jobs and transportation. Access to housing that is affordable is central to quality of life.  Rising home values and rents are severely limiting options for low-income and even middle class residents who can’t afford the higher price-tag. Not everyone has shared in Wake County’s economic growth.  11% of Wake’s residents live at or below the Federal poverty level. Homelessness is increasing as people are priced out of their homes, and many must live further from job centers to afford housing, but have higher transportation costs. Wake County public schools have seen a 24% increase in homeless students since 2009.


Unmet need for affordable housing in Wake

One quarter of Wake County residents are housing burdened, meaning they spend more than one third of household income on housing. Approximately 56,000 working families who make less than $39,000 a year in Wake County are currently unable to find affordable housing. Current trends show that numbers may increase to as many as 150,000 households over the next 20 years.  In Raleigh alone, 31,000 people spend more than 30% of their income on housing, and 16,400 people spend more than 50%. Meanwhile, Wake County is actually losing 800-1300 affordable housing units per year.

                                           Who needs affordable housing?

People who are part of our workforce:

People making < 30% of Area Median Income (AMI) – home health aides, retail workers, people on disability People making 30-50% AMI – store clerks, daycare workers

People making 50-80% AMI – teachers, firefighters

What’s being done to address housing needs?

Federal, state, and private funding for affordable housing is increasingly limited, and so more burden is falling on local governments to provide assistance for housing.  Unfortunately, state law prevents requiring private developers to include affordable/workforce housing in their developments.  In 2016, Raleigh passed a 1-cent property tax increase to fund more affordable housing.  This funding is helping the city work towards its goal of building 570 new units of affordable housing each year.  The City funded 368 units in FY 17.  Also, the Wake County Board of Commissioners formed an Affordable Housing Steering Committee that met in 2017 to develop recommendations for actions the County and municipalities can take to improve housing options county-wide. These recommendations, approved by the County Commission on October 16, 2017, include proposals for land use changes, creating housing funds for acquiring property and preserving existing market-rate housing, expanding existing county programs, and creating new funding sources to meet the growing need.  See the full Wake Affordable Housing Plan recommendations here.


WakeUP’s actions on affordable housing:

  • WakeUP added housing issue to our policy goals and invited housing experts to join WakeUP’s Transportation, Land Use and Housing Committee which meets regularly to research housing challenges and potential policy solutions
  • Advocating with City of Raleigh and Wake County to plan for affordable housing along current and future transit line expansions
  • Supported one-cent property tax dedicated to affordable housing in Raleigh
  • Participated in the Wake County Affordable Housing Steering Committee and will advocate for many of their recommendations
  • Advocating to allow Accessory Dwelling Units (aka “Granny Flats”) in municipalities to increase supply of housing options at no cost to taxpayers