Raleigh Proposes to Sell off Public Housing; Fair Housing Advocates Oppose Plan

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On Tuesday January 21, the Raleigh City Council voted 7-1 to approve the Raleigh Housing Authority’s (RHA) plan to sell 60 units of subsidized low-income housing and turn them into “market-rate” homes. The homes are in Capitol Park, formerly Halifax Court, on the north side of downtown Raleigh. The homes were originally constructed about 15 years ago using money from a federal HOPE VI grant. The RHA plans to sell the 60 units for $300,000, a tiny fraction of their tax value of $8 million. The plan also calls for the loss of an additional 115 public housing units in diverse areas across Raleigh.

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The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) must approve RHA’s plan as part of their 2014 Agency Plan. The North Carolina Justice Center, along with the UNC Center for Civil Rights, Congregations for Social Justice, the Fair Housing Project of Legal Aid of North Carolina, and activist Octavia Rainey, submitted comments to HUD asking that they deny the plan to sell off these and 115 other single family public housing units.

Raleigh’s Consolidated Plan reports that almost all of the public housing tenants in Raleigh are “extremely low income,” meaning they have incomes that are less than 30% of the area’s median, about $20,000 for a family of three. The original HOPE VI grant was to redevelop Halifax Court at a cost of $60 million, demolishing more than 300 units that served this extremely low income population and replacing it with more integrated mixed income housing, including these 60 units for extremely low income that are at issue. The current proposal to sell off the publicly subsidized housing completely undermines the grant’s original purpose of mixed income housing as it will price all extremely low income tenants out of their neighborhood.

This proposal also conflicts with the City’s obligations under the Fair Housing Act to affirmatively further fair housing, which it must certify in order to receive HUD money. Raleigh acknowledges that the lack of affordable housing in Raleigh is already an impediment to fair housing; removing 60 more units is a step backwards.

As the complaint states, the Fair Housing Act is designed to “foster more inclusive communities,” and “overcome segregated living patterns and support and promote integrated communities, to end racially and ethnically concentrated areas of poverty, and to foster and maintain compliance with civil rights and fair housing laws.” This proposed loss of 175 units of public housing – that are currently in diverse high opportunity areas across Raleigh cannot be reconciled with statutory requirements or principles of fair housing. Rent vouchers for private apartments are not an adequate alternative, because landlords in higher income areas generally do not except them. Providing low income housing through vouchers will only concentrate poverty and reinforce patterns of housing segregation.

Raleigh City Council approves housing authority plan, despite concerns about loss of public housing, News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), Jan. 21, 2014

Groups say Raleigh Housing Authority plans will create 'less opportunity, more segregation', News and Observer (Raleigh, N.C.), Feb. 24, 2014


Posted by Peter Hull Gilbert on Fri. February 21, 2014 3:28 PM
Categories: Community Inclusion, Fair Housing, Race Discrimination, Wake County
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