An open letter requesting Pittsboro uphold affordable housing recommendations

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TO THE EDITOR:

Pittsboro Mayor and Town Commissioners,

We are Chatham Organizing for Racial Equity (CORE), a diverse group of Chatham residents working to advance racial equity in Chatham County since 2016. Not only do we facilitate racial equity workshops and offer our consulting services to local organizations and agencies guiding them to advance equity within their institutions, organizations, and communities, but we also aim to build conversations around difficult topics that affect us all. We community organize around issues that affect our common humanity, like affordable housing.

The impact of structural racism on home ownership and affordable housing is well documented in economic justice literature and in US history. Data shows that home ownership is not equitably accessible despite accounting for factors such as a stable job and education. There is a nationwide affordable housing crisis — one that has persisted for decades. We are asking the Town of Pittsboro decision-makers to address this issue with racial equity at the center.

Affordable housing affects individuals across socioeconomic backgrounds. Yet, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) are disproportionately impacted at higher rates because of longstanding barriers to building and retaining wealth. At CORE, we have recently partnered with WEBB-Squared, a new non-profit seeking to build wealth among Black Business owners and entrepreneurs, to address the racial wealth gap in rural counties across the state starting in Chatham County.

Affordable housing, home ownership, and equitable development must be prioritized throughout Chatham County allowing for an inclusive housing policy. Adequate, well-maintained housing is the foundation of a safe and stable life. It is a basic human right. We are requesting the Town Board of Commissioners and Mayor advocate for the following recommendations:

  • A minimum of 10-15% of proposed units dedicated to affordable housing
  • Specify a portion of units to be used for 65% AMI or below
  • Use true HUD definitions of affordability targeting households below 80%
  • Remove the Land Donation equivalent and hold Chatham Park accountable to providing affordable housing
  • Avoid creating a new Affordable Housing non-profit but instead invest in staff and capacity to be able to implement, change policies, and navigate how these affordable units can become a reality

An important next step would be initiating an intentional process using a racial equity resource (e.g. Government Alliance for Racial Equity Toolkit) to assess potential biases and develop specific metrics, plans, and procedures to reduce racial bias in the housing sector. CORE stands ready to assist the Pittsboro Town Commissioners, Mayor, and Town Manager by providing input and resources as you engage in this important work. Please contact us at info@ corenc.org if you would like to discuss further.

Karinda Roebuck
Executive Director, Chatham Organizing for Racial Equity

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