Affordable housing effort launched

By Todd Cohen

RALEIGH, N.C. — Persuading state lawmakers next year to increase to $50 million from $3 million the annual appropriation to support affordable housing for low-income people is the goal of a collaborative effort that includes the A.J. Fletcher Foundation, North Carolina Housing Coalition and United Way of North Carolina.

The group aims to enlist nonprofits, affordable-housing advocates, business leaders and local government in its campaign, says Bill Rowe, general counsel for the N.C. Justice Center in Raleigh, which is coordinating the effort with a $45,000 grant from the Fletcher Foundation, publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

While lawmakers appropriate $3 million each year to the N.C. Housing Trust Fund, which they created in 1987, those funds are not enough to meet the housing needs of low-income people, Rowe says.

More than 600,000 North Carolina families live in homes they cannot afford, he says, and more than 315,000 of those families pay more than half their income for housing, which is considered “affordable” when it costs no more than 30 percent of household income.

The Housing Trust Fund, which is administered by the N.C. Housing Finance Agency, makes loans to nonprofit and for-profit developers and to local government, which use the money to boost homeownership, repair and renovate dilapidated housing, develop rental housing for families and the elderly, and develop “supportive” housing for families with disabilities.

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