Durham

Durham makes the wrong list on affordable housing

The free market of real estate sales takes no prisoners:

Ten years after the housing collapse during the Great Recession, a new and different housing crisis has emerged. Back then, people were losing their homes as home values crashed and homeowners went underwater. Today, home values have rebounded, but people who want to buy a new home are often priced out of the market. There are too few homes and too many potential buyers.

This isn't just a problem in San Francisco or New York, where home prices and rents have gone sky-high. It is also a problem in midsized, fast-growing cities farther inland, like Des Moines, Iowa; Durham, N.C.; and Boise, Idaho. In Boise, an analysis by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development showed there is a demand for more than 10 times the number of homes being built right now.

Quick NIMBY anecdote: My town government is having a tense struggle (with me right in the middle) with some neighborhoods over new construction projects, and one big takeaway is: They definitely don't want anything resembling "affordable housing." No apartment buildings, no modest townhomes (less than $200,000). Of course, many of these folks would prefer to see nothing at all built there, but if it's happening, they want to make sure no poor people, or even lower middle class, move in next door. Here's more about the problem, and the conundrum of not having nearly enough homes for the people who need them:

Durham Sheriff defies judge and turns over detainee to ICE

Proving Durham's voters made the right choice in the Primary:

The Durham County sheriff turned a man over to Immigration and Custom Enforcement officers on Saturday despite a Durham Superior Court judge’s request that law enforcement bring the 35-year-old Honduran to his courtroom on Tuesday. Judge Orlando Hudson had scheduled a hearing for Tuesday after an attorney for Jose Hernandez, a Durham-based window installer, filed a petition accusing Sheriff Mike Andrews of unconstitutionally detaining her client.

Hudson said Saturday he did not issue a formal order demanding Hernandez’s presence on Tuesday. But the judge said Curtis Massey, an attorney for the sheriff, had assured him that Durham deputies would get Hernandez there.

It was only just a few weeks ago when (outgoing) Sheriff Mike Andrews tried to justify his cooperation with ICE by saying he was actually "helping" the undocumented immigrant population, by turning over criminals and keeping ICE from "searching" for them in the community. But as we see in this case, his deputies racially profiled this guy and grabbed him as he left his bank:

Durham moving forward with "Bike Boulevards" program for safety

Because two wheels are much better for you than four:

Bike boulevards, which have been created in cities like Portland, Ore. and Berkeley Calif., would turn some neighborhood streets across the urban core of Durham into preferred routes for the bicyclists – directing bikers off car-heavy streets and toward quieter routes. Durham is hoping to create at least 7 miles of these bike boulevards in the coming years to help safely move bicyclists more easily from north Durham to south Durham.

That “one-street-over” concept is currently exemplified by Watts Street in the Trinity Park neighborhood, which became the first bicycle boulevard in the city in 2016. On that street, the city has put pavement markings and street signs directing cyclists to use that road and letting motor vehicles know the street is a preferred bicycle route.

We've just begun to discuss something like this in my (relatively) small town, and (believe it or not) we have some challenges that Durham may not have. Our Main St. is just a stone's-throw away from a busy rail line, and we have two state highways that converge right in the middle of downtown. Coming up with alternate routes without taking bikers too far away from that hub has turned out to be not nearly as easy as I originally pictured. But since we're hoping to get more density in the downtown via mixed use (retail & residential), we need to figure it out pretty soon.

Mayors Roberts and Bell Proclaim Ethanol Day in Charlotte and Durham; Highlight Renewable Biofuels and Cleaner Environment

Growth Energy Celebrates E15 Day in Charlotte, Durham
North Carolina drivers to benefit from clean, affordable fuel options

Charlotte, NC – Growth Energy thanked Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts and Durham Mayor Bill Bell today for designating September 16 as E15 Day in two of North Carolina’s largest cities. The announcements celebrate an expansion of consumer access to E15, a 21st century fuel blended with 15 percent ethanol that provides drivers with improved engine performance while reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Displacing the poor: Durham's market-driven revitalization

Gentrification, by any other name:

Kielhurn says these stories of dilapidated, unsafe, unsanitary rentals are fairly common. And the poor condition of some of the housing stock in poorer neighborhoods is what allows her, and other buyers, to grab up properties for such low prices. She’s bought many of her properties for under $50,000 and spends the bulk of her funds on renovations. When she rents them out again, she charges what she feels is a fair price for all the work she’s put in, and for the fact that she’ll be more attentive than previous landlords. So prices escalate to $800, $900, or $1,200 a month.

For muni and metro governments, who are already struggling with budget concerns, the idea of allowing the private sector a free hand in revitalization is an alluring one. Costs to the taxpayers are minimized, and the increase in property values ensures a nice tax bonus a few years down the road. But it's also irresponsible, because it exposes a portion of the citizenry to economic hardship that can (and does) result in homelessness and despair. Creating an affordable housing program (that works) is a complicated and costly venture, but it is a critical responsibility that must be pursued:

Somebody save us from hard-headed police chiefs

No amount of studious research can fix stupid:

The workload could be reallocated away from petty marijuana arrests, City Council, the mayor and social justice advocates say. Although Lopez says DPD has never prioritized low-level pot busts, the ones that occur still disproportionately affect people of color. White pot smokers get away with it; blacks do not.

To which Lopez, ever charismatic, replied, “I would recommend to people concerned about this issue that they not smoke marijuana.”

Setting aside for a moment the harmless (and often medically helpful) nature of marijuana and the moral imperative to decriminalize it, when your racially-tuned crime-control dragnet scoops up a heck of a lot more people of color than their white counterparts, busting those otherwise innocent kids for small quantities of marijuana represents a horrifically "unjust" system. Two eighteen year-old boys, both recreational pot users. One gets busted and his future darkens, the other easily flies under police radar and stumbles through UNC on the five-year plan. It''s the difference between making $25,000 per year and $55,000. Just felt like throwing some numbers out there. It's not always about bad choices or bad luck, there are institutional factors that play a part. We can't easily fix the choices thing, but we can (and should) address those institutional problems.

Rent too damn high

Rent is too damn high, especially if you work for minimum wage. Tell me again why we shouldn't raise the minimum wage?

The Raleigh-Durham area joins several mid-size metros as having the highest rent increases in 2014, according to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal.

The report, based on data from real estate research firm Reis Inc., looks at apartment rents in the fourth quarter 2014 compared to the previous year. Nationwide, the average increase was 3.6 percent; Raleigh rents rose 4.8 percent.

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