The agenda for Tuesday night’s City Council meeting is thin (although Thursday’s work session is a doozy—bring trail mix and coffee), but two items related to affordable housing are worth applauding.
As many as 26 new affordable houses could be built and/or renovated in Northeast-Central and Southwest Central Durham if the Council approves $682,000 in funding to Habitat for Humanity.
The nonprofit is asking for $182,910 from the Dedicated Housing Funds to build at least five affordable, energy-efficient single-family houses in NECD, priced for first-time homebuyers and low-income households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income, or about $30,000 annually. The homes could be built on vacant lots; alternately, the nonprofit could buy houses and renovate them.
Habitat has requested another $500,000 in Dedicated Housing Funds, part of which is also earmarked for 10 new or rehabilitated homes in NECD.
Homeownership rates are low in NECD, where two-thirds to 90 percent of residents rent, according to data from the Durham Neighborhood Compass. Of those who do own homes, 40 percent to 60 percent spend more than a third of their monthly income on housing costs —mortgage, utilities, insurance. Meanwhile, median household incomes range from $16,926 a year to $27,500. Durham's median annual household income is $50,000.
Habitat would use the rest of the money for buying up to 11 vacant lots in Southwest-Central Durham. The nonprofit would then build new houses there, also targeted toward first-time homebuyers. These houses would be similar to previous Habitat projects in the West End and Lyon Park.
SWCD also has a high rate of renters and homeownership costs, due in part to the condition of older houses that are expensive to maintain.