Affordable Housing Community meets to discuss community concerns and gather input



Tony monblat/flickr

Aden Hizkias
   Staff Writer

Councilwoman Sharon Hightower asked for a community meeting last Thursday, held at Shiloh Baptist Church, to discuss the affordable housing issues in District 1 and overall Greensboro.

“This will help us and the city to come up with a viable solution for housing” Councilwoman Hightower stated.

She talked about how housing in the community meant different things to different people and it depends on what a person makes and how he/she lives as well as how many people are in the household to note what is deemed affordable.

“Where one person can live off of $35,000 a year, four people struggle in a household,” said Councilwoman Hightower.

Hightower believes that affordable housing is important with regards to safety, quality of life, and the ability to be a productive citizen.

Cynthia Blue from the Neighborhood Development Housing Services and Code Compliance shared data on rental housing.

Greensboro is divided relatively equally in terms of homeowners and rental owners; 42 percent of renter households, however, are one-person while 23 percent of rental units are one bedroom.

This suggests that people pay more for unneeded or unwanted space.

Over 50 percent of renters in Greensboro are also cost burdened, paying more than 30 percent of their income for housing expenses.

Blue shared her hope that in the discussion held that everyone would, “think big, think creative, and think [about what we can] bring to our and other city programs…new ideas, new directions, and creative partnerships to try and solve some of these problems.”

During the community meeting, which was co hosted by The City of Greensboro and The Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro, they asked the public several questions.

The first attendee to ask a question wondered how the city could help assist the struggling households to obtain or maintain a safe, decent, and affordable place to live.

Community members believed that the city first needed to know why certain areas were not safe—what conditions were first making the household struggle. Those in attendance were adamant about assessing root causes.

In terms of rental, the increase in subsidies is also a problem. One community member who works for the housing development noted that they had $12,000 on their wait list for renting. If developers also received more subsidies, it could help those who need a place to live.

Others concerns included the need for an increase in wages, job creation, transportation that is more accessible, education for the community on needs of the disabled as well as funding for the disabled.

Moving unused properties into the market and creating workshops on home maintenance was offered as a possibility.

“It’s really like the people’s foundation is how I like to think about it…it’s sort of like a collective way of giving, to help improve the community,” said Tara Sandercock, a Community Foundation of Greater Greensboro representative.

Questions also arose regarding the most urgent issues, barriers, or concerns that must be addressed in order to create long-term solutions for affordable housing.

The community had many concerns such as zone restrictions or regulations between group homes, loans funding or lack thereof and failures in policy making; encouraging owners to make vacant units available/habitable, was also an object of trepidation.

Students expressed their unease with landlord price collusions, the rising cost of rent, and having to live with a stranger for financial reasons.

One member in attendance described an argument with a landlord where mold had been growing within the rental property, months passed, and his landlord ignored him. It was not until he filed a civil suit that the problem was fixed.

Some described housing markets as “becoming more of a political force’” and that developers needed more resources.

“It is important to do these community meetings…and reach out to everyone to get their input,” said Councilwoman Hightower.

Categories: Greensboro, News, Uncategorized

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