On Wednesday evening, the Chapel Hill Town Council unanimously approved the town’s first ever comprehensive affordable housing plan and investment strategy. The plan – read it here – identifies key housing priorities for the next five years and the resources needed to implement it. The vote did not, however, allocate those resources. The investment strategy acknowledges that the Town requires $50m over the next five years to implement the plan.

In the coming months, town staff and the Council will develop a plan to implement and fund the plan. This will likely include:

  • establishing a revolving loan fund, which would allow the town for example to purchase and preserve aging apartment complexes
  • refining the existing inclusionary zoning ordinance to better incentivize developers to produce affordable units
  • building staff capacity to implement elements of the plan
  • funding the plan, which will likely rely on multiple sources, including a large bond (the Housing Advisory Board unanimously recommended the bond be set at $50 million)

Passage of the plan is a big deal. It acknowledges that tackling affordability requires multifaceted, well-funded efforts. It acknowledges that UNC and market rate developers can be a part of the solution but that we cannot simply sit back and demand they solve the problem for us. Affordable housing is a generational crisis – it’s all hands on deck to address it.

Kudos to the Council and town staff for developing and passing the plan. Both have been much maligned over the past year, accused of trying to destroy Chapel Hill with duplexes, ignoring the need for affordable homes, and being shills for developers.

It appears instead that they have been quietly busy getting shit done.


In the last municipal election cycle, we helped increase turnout by over 20 percent. We're all volunteers who care deeply about Chapel Hill and Carrboro, and we're working to make Chapel Hill and Carrboro more vibrant, accessible, fun, and sustainable.  Please consider a small donation to help us keep our digital lights on, host events, and hire students to do data deep-dives.

Stephen Whitlow lives in Chapel Hill. Trained as an urban planner at DCRP, he works for a research, evaluation, and technical assistance firm and focuses on the areas of housing affordability, fair housing,...