What We're Advocating for This Year

Rachel Zeitler | September 19, 2019

Our community consistently tops the lists of best places to live. People and businesses are moving to the Triangle every day, making it one of the fastest growing regions in the country. 

Because there’s such demand, housing costs are on the rise. Home prices are increasing at a faster rate than wage growth, putting strain on what families are able to afford. 

In Wake and Johnston counties, one out of every four families pays too much of their household income toward housing. The average two-bedroom apartment costs $1,086 a month at fair market rent. To afford this, a worker would need to earn $43,440 annually (or $20.88 per hour). A minimum wage earner would need to work 115 hours per week.

When families pay too much toward housing, they may struggle to afford other necessities, like food, transportation, education and healthcare.

Our region isn’t alone in facing housing affordability challenges. These trends are nation-wide, which is why the Habitat network recently launched its first national advocacy campaign, called Cost of Home. Habitat Wake is joining the five-year Cost of Home campaign locally by advocating for policy solutions that will enable families to have greater access to homes they can afford. 

We are advocating for:

  • Expanded down payment assistance to help people purchase affordable homes of their own. Saving enough for a down payment can be one of the biggest barriers for first-time homebuyers. Down payment assistance programs can help would-be homeowners enter the market with safe, affordable mortgages. 

  • Increased local and state funding for affordable housing. Investing in housing will help address pressing unmet needs by preserving existing housing and building new affordable homes for those that need it in our community. 

  • Planning decisions that align bus routes with affordable housing and that create access to robust transit options. Together, housing and transportation costs make up half of the average household’s budget. Accessibility to public transit results in greater economic opportunities for residents and can reduce transportation costs and commuting time, which can be substantial household expenses for working families.

  • Property tax assistance for homeowners to ensure homes stay affordable long term. Property taxes play an important role in making sure our community has the services and infrastructure needed to maintain quality of life for all residents. At the same time, we want to make sure homeowners can afford to stay in their homes long-term, especially in gentrifying neighborhoods. Providing tax assistance to homeowners that need it can help ensure residents are not priced out, while also allowing our community to grow. 

  • Expedited development review processes for new affordable housing projects and similar policies that help increase overall housing supply. All construction projects go through a review process to make sure they comply with local laws. The process of gaining permits and approvals can often be lengthy, impacting a project’s schedule and costs. Expediting this process for projects where some or all of the homes are affordable can help reduce costs and encourage the development of more affordable units.

  • Local land use policies that increase the variety of housing options, especially at lower price points. Land use policies impact the location, amount, and type of housing that’s available in our community. As our area grows,  it’s important for local governments to adjust zoning codes to allow for a variety of housing options, such as accessory dwelling units, townhomes, duplexes and bungalow courts. Another helpful strategy is to use publicly-owned land that has been deemed “surplus” for affordable housing. 

We also partner with Habitat for Humanity International in their efforts to protect federal programs that support affordable housing.

In addition to these policies, we will work to challenge stigmas that exist around affordable housing and Habitat homes, and encourage inclusive neighborhoods through public education and awareness.

Everyone deserves a safe, affordable place to call home. Join the movement and help us promote better housing solutions in our community. Sign up to receive monthly advocacy alerts to help you stay up to date and for opportunities to take action.