Published: Apr 30, 2012 10:16 AM
Modified: Apr 30, 2012 10:17 AM
It isn’t in the budget and it hasn’t even been approved yet, but City Hall is taking suggestions on how to spend a “dedicated funding stream” – aka a tax increase – for low-cost housing.
Some suggestions came out at a recent input session held by the city’s community development office. The session also brought out that, between City Hall and low-cost housing advocates, there has been a failure to communicate just what the city has in mind and is already doing.
Several speakers called for a five-year housing plan, to lay out priorities and where the money will come from, and so Durham’s residents will know what’s going on.
“It is very difficult for citizens to participate in housing plans,” Lanier Blum of the People’s Alliance, told Community Development Interim Director Reginald Johnson.
“We can’t see what’s already been committed of the federal funds. We can’t see what’s committed for city spending in the future. ... Please help us,” Blum said.
“Write the vision out and make it plain, so the people can see it and run with it,” said Tammy Rodman, board president of the Interfaith Hospitality Network..
In February, Mayor Bill Bell suggested the “dedicated funding stream” for low-cost housing and neighborhood revitalization, to make up for cuts in federal grant programs. In subsequent meetings on the 2012-13 budget, the dedicated stream took the form of a property-tax increase.
Nothing is definite yet, Johnson said, but the figure being discussed is one cent per $100 of property valuation. That would bring in about $2.3 million per year, he said.
The city has already committed part of the federal money it had expected to receive to the Rolling Hills/Southside redevelopment. Cuts have left a shortfall on that project, while the city has also committed to revitalizing residential areas east and southwest of downtown and to serving the homeless population.
“The city does not have enough money for all the housing needs that are out there,” said Terry Allebaugh, director of the nonprofit Housing for New Hope.
Evan Covington Chavez of Self Help said the city should create an advisory committee to administer housing projects according to a set five-year plan.
“A committee ... that is informed by data, not informed by my agenda or (others’) agenda, but by what we know we need and what we know we have,” she said.
“Money can be used much more productively than it has been in the past because we can develop thing we see with a common vision,” she added.
Johnson said he’ll submit the suggestions to the City Council and administration. The council will decide whether to raise the property tax, if so how much and for what, during budget meetings in late May and June.
City Manager Tom Bonfield will present his proposed budget May 21; a public hearing will occur June 4.