Cary leaders working on plan to create affordable housing for town

Wake County News

CARY, N.C. (WNCN) – Many families across the Triangle struggle to find an affordable home.

On Tuesday, Cary’s Town Council unanimously approved a housing plan. The plan includes creating a housing fund, building affordable housing on town-owned land and incentivizing developers who build affordable housing. 

Cary’s population increased 29-percent from 2010 to 2020, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. The cost of a house is growing too. According to realtor.com, the median home listing in Cary is $495,000, up nearly 100K from three years ago.

Wesley Spears-Newsome is an organizer with ONE Wake, a non-partisan group of religious leaders and non-profits.

“The people who make Cary a great place to live deserve to be able to live here,” Spears-Newsome said.

He said he is excited about the housing plan, but wants more details on where the money to fund it is coming from.

“If you don’t put a clear financial pathway for this plan to succeed the plan will remain words and we don’t want it to remain words we want it to turn into brick-and-mortar buildings in our community.”

The group wants the town to implement a “Penny for Housing” plan, creating a housing fund based on the value of 1 cent per $100. ONE Wake said it would generate $3.2 million from the $30.9 billion Cary tax base.

ONE Wake also hosted a Town Council candidate forum Thursday evening, asking candidates for the council seats in the 2022 election whether they support the town’s housing plan and their ideas for how to fund it. 

“We’re committed to making sure that the people who make this town great for our teachers, first responders and health care workers that they’re able to live in the town that they serve,” Spears-Newsome said.

Gary House, the President of The Professional Firefighters of Cary, told CBS 17 less than 5-percent of the fire department’s employees live in the town limits. He said there are many reasons why, but affordability is one.

“The amenities that living in Cary offers are citizens are second to none in the area and with the current housing market in Wake County, fire department employees cannot afford to live in the city limits,” House said.

Spears-Newsome is an Associate Pastor at Cary’s Greenwood Forest Baptist Church, and couldn’t afford to buy a home in Cary until recently.

“We were able to take money – that we received – from a relative, a dear relative who died, that we were able to buy a house here,” Spears-Newsome said. “We believe that somebody shouldn’t have to die for people to be able to afford a house in Cary.”

According to the housing plan, the town will use local, county and federal funding for housing programs, as well as philanthropic funds and private investment. The town listed special purpose taxes and real estate transfer taxes, as some of the ways to fund the Cary Housing Fund.

The town’s website said one of the next steps is evaluating funding.

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