Issues // Investing in People
Adequate and affordable housing is basic to living in Hillsborough—or anywhere. . From affordable rentals to home ownership, our community must seriously address residents’ ability to access housing. We must increase the stock of affordable housing, including building affordable rental units on town-owned property and promoting innovative solutions like accessory dwelling units.
That’s why Matt promotes three critical pieces to ensuring residents of Hillsborough have their housing needs met:
Implementing workforce housing with local partners
Developing affordable rentals in town
Encouraging more property owners to accept Housing Choice (“Section 8”) Vouchers
People with jobs in Hillsborough should be able to live, play, and worship in the community where they work. Whether they are teachers, police officers, nurses, or housekeepers at UNC, they should have access to housing they can afford. . Workforce housing will help us address the needs of those who work in Orange County, shortens commutes, and creates a beneficial economic cycle. The Town should emphasize making workforce housing a priority by working with local government partners and the private sector. Owning a home is a key element of the American dream. We have several organizations here in Orange County - such as Empowerment, Habitat for Humanity, and Community Home Trust - that are helping make that dream a reality for low-income families and first-time homebuyers. With rising home prices, we must take proactive steps for addressing the issue of home ownership and home retention in order to preserve Hillsborough’s diversity and character. The Town should appropriate additional funds to help nonprofits build and manage homes for residents who are eager and able to afford a home built at below market-rate.
Our neighbors face housing challenges in part because we have seen a drop in the number of property owners, predominantly out-of-state companies that own apartment complexes in Orange County, accepting Housing Choice Vouchers. With fewer apartment complexes accepting these vouchers and rent raises across the board, there is less housing stock available for our lower-income residents. The Town should work with the County and take the lead in working with property owners to encourage acceptance of the vouchers. Furthermore, since those vouchers will only cover a portion of rents, the county should make it a priority to secure grants and other private sources of funding to close the gap between what the voucher covers and what the tenant can afford.
No one should have to work more than forty hours a week to pay for housing or feed their family. The people of Hillsborough and greater Orange County need jobs that will allow them to afford to live in our community and provide for their families. Matt proposes ensuring that residents of Hillsborough are able to provide for themselves and their families by:
• Creating incentives for existing local businesses to raise wages for workers
• Working with all current and future businesses contracting with the Town to provide higher wages in line with the living wage town employees receive
• Prioritizing working with companies that provide wages as close to our living wage as possible and recruiting companies to the county that pledge to provide higher wages
Keeping Hillsborough an affordable place to live is, in part, about keeping residential taxes as low as possible. Matt applauds the work of previous Town Commissioners for holding the line for residents for the past seven years, particularly during the economic downturn. However, we can only maintain these levels by bringing in additional commercial development and increasing sales tax revenues. Basic Town services cost more each year. But we can keep residential taxes steady by continuing to diversify our tax base and generating more economic activity right here in Hillsborough.
Water and Sewer Rates
Keeping water and sewer rates low is a key part of making Hillsborough a more affordable town to live in. Matt recognizes that many residents, especially those living on fixed incomes have concerns regarding water and sewer rates.. He is committed to working with our Water and Sewer Advisory Committee to address water rates for both in town and out of town customers to make our rates simultaneously more affordable and more equitable through a comprehensive study of our rate tiers.
Matt knows first-hand the issues seniors face. He was one of his great-grandfather’s primary caregivers for nearly eight years in West Hillsborough. He saw how difficult it is for seniors to afford their homes after retirement, especially when on a fixed income and facing daunting medical expenses. Matt will work to ensure that our Town’s seniors can continue to count on their local government to address the issues of an aging population. This will include continued improvements for senior transportation needs, continued property tax relief for seniors, and continued support for our high quality of senior services.