ERUUFians support Durham CAN's Affordable Housing Action

Seven ERUUFians joined 150-170 Durham CAN members at the September 10 Durham City Council work session to show support for creating affordable housiing near the proposed stops of the light rail.  The effort was successful at eliminating the option of a direct sale of the land to a developer.  However, no final decision was made about how the land would be used.  The City's Development Office is recommending a mixed use plan that would not necessarily include affordable housing.

Durham CAN will meet on September 28 to plan additional action and strategy. For more information, see Durham CAN's Facebook page or contact Cindy Henshaw.  Read below the line for CAN's more detailed report of the September 10 meeting and plans for moving forward with this issue. 

UPDATE: At the Sept. 28th meeting, it was recommended and agreed that CAN leaders attend the Oct. 1 Public Hearing in support of the transit effort even in light of the cap of $500,000 cap the General Assembly put on the project. Also, in preparation for the October 26 Accountability Session with Mayoral and City Council candidates CAN leaders activated a research team that will look into:

  • Meetings with the Mayor and elected leaders
  • Research on all development subsidies downtown
  • Research on all candidate contributions
  • Preparation for the Accountability session
Pledges of about 320 people were taken to attend the Accountability Session (public assembly), 

durham CAN meeting

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The following is a preliminary analysis of the affordable housing action at City Hall regarding city-owned land at Central Station:

Our Goal:  Our turnout was 150-170 (very good for a mid day meeting). We launched our action given the signal from the City Manager of his intention to sell the land to the best bidder. Our proposal included the possibility to apply for a $9-10 million federal subsidy and build 80-90 apartments affordable to families bellow 60 % of the AMI (many City staff, teachers, nurses, bus operators, first responders etc).

The reaction: Our action moved the conversation from the initial intention to sell the property to the best bidder, to one of a mixed use (retail, office and residential) development. Such an option might or might not include affordable housing.

Some Council City members brought up concerns about the fairness or speed of the process, while other Council members spoke in support of our agenda, but it was already too late.

The City Manager was asked to bring feedback to the Council on September 24. He was discouraged from selling the property to the best bidder, which is a victory in itself.

What is next?:

There are several different scenarios we are researching. We want to bring more clarity to our leaders at a future meeting, but this is what is clear to us:

1. We need to regroup and plan how to react. Please join us for a meeting on September 28 from 6-8 PM at the conference room of the Center for Responsible Lending downtown Durham. http://www.responsiblelending.org/?referrer=https://www.google.com

2. We want to publicly request that whatever development the City ultimately approves includes affordable housing

3. We need to bring this issue to the Mayoral and City Council campaigns. To that effect CAN will hold an accountability meeting with all candidates on October 26 at Duke Memorial United Methodist Church. CAN does not endorse candidates but they can endorse a community agenda provided everyone is invited and asked the same questions. If Durham elects two new council members that support our affordable housing agenda, we will be in better position.

4. Self Help will continue researching options including repackaging a proposal. Those options include waiting until next year to issue a similar proposal. We should have some clarity by the 9/28 meeting.

5. Please direct our leaders to attend the 9/24 City Council meeting. During that meeting we want to request that regardless of the project ultimately approved a certain percentage of affordable housing is included.

6. We want to encourage thoughtful letters to the editor expanding on different key points that advance the conversation. Additional talking points will be provided to those interested in helping in this regard.