My name is Mei-Yen Ireland and I grew up in Chapel Hill. I went to Estes Hills Elementary, Phillips Middle, and graduated from East Chapel Hill High School. I then went away for college and was gone for 20 years as I went to graduate school, started my professional career, and started my family. But I always knew I’d come back to Chapel Hill because Chapel Hill is a community where we have shared values around inclusion and diversity. And more importantly we are willing to take action to make sure we actually live out those values. The housing choice text amendments is one example of taking action to live out our shared values of inclusion and diversity.
For the first 10 years as a young family, we were renters—we had to be renters because between my husband and I, one or both of us was in graduate school for 10 years. I see the housing choice text amendments as providing more opportunities for young families like mine was for 10 years to be able to rent in homes in neighborhoods (not apartment complexes) in Chapel Hill.
Four years ago we were fortunate to be able to buy our first home. We own a single family home in a small neighborhood off Piney Mountain and Forbush Mountain Drive. This neighborhood has small 1200-1800 sq ft homes that are owned or rented predominantly by young families or retired individuals. This neighborhood is zoned R2 so we already allow duplexes (although none have ever been built despite several homes being owned by investors). The best part of this neighborhood is that we were able to buy a home across the street from my mom. I feel so blessed every morning when my kids say “I’m going to say good morning to Nana!” Four years ago this was the only neighborhood where a young first time home buyer and a retired single individual would have been able to afford homes in the same neighborhood. I’m not sure there are any places today where this could happen. I see the housing choice text amendments as providing more opportunities for multigenerational families like my own.
The housing choice proposal is only one small step in a broader set of actions that we’ll need to take as a community to continue to live out our values of inclusion and diversity, but I want to thank the town staff for their tireless efforts to build a future for Chapel Hill that allows us to do that. Thank you to the town council for your leadership and service. I encourage you to approve the housing choice text amendments.