It all begins at home

By Todd Cohen

Ron Penny dreaded the roses he dodged when mowing his lawn, and the brussel sprouts served on his plate.

But he cherished the home in which his mother gardened and cooked.

Now, as chair-elect of United Way of North Carolina, Penny is championing a statewide effort to give more children a place to call home.

The Campaign for Housing Carolina, backed by a growing coalition of nonprofits, businesses and government agencies, is pushing lawmakers to increase to $50 million from $3 million the state’s annual investment in affordable housing.

The free market will not produce affordable housing, advocates say, because low-income people cannot afford rents and mortgages to cover construction and operating costs.

But a $50 million annual investment by the state, they say, will generate over 3,000 jobs, over $30 million in new state and local tax revenues, $200 million in leveraged dollars for housing development and preservation, and housing for over 6,000 households.

A home is where community begins.

Yet over two million North Carolinians live in homes they cannot afford, and nearly two-thirds of renter households in the state earning less than $20,000 cannot afford their rent.

As Ron Penny says, North Carolina can do better.

Todd Cohen is the Editor and Publisher of the Philanthropy Journal.

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