Ken Larsen's web site - Affordable housing issue in Chapel Hill


"Immutable Laws of Affordable Housing" - Strong Towns


In Chapel Hill affordable housing is becoming harder to find and more expensive for several reasons:


  1. Our area is growing at a fast pace (around 80 people/day), and many want to live in Chapel Hill because of the school system.  Per the laws of supply and demand, they're driving up the price of land and housing.  Some come from wealthy other parts of the country and can afford to outbid the locals. 

  2. Chapel Hill has a "rural buffer" to prevent sprawl.  This limits the amount of land available for development and further drives up the cost.

  3. Developers fight attempts to build affordable housing.  They make more money building luxury apartments.

  4. UNC keeps growing and refuses to build an ample amount of parking.  They also charge students and faculty large amounts of money for those scarce parking resources.  This motivates students to live off campus ... which increases the competition for housing ... driving up prices.

  5. Developers petition the Town Council to change zoning (as they did in the Ephesus-Fordham district) and then bulldoze the land to building high rise luxury apartment complexes.

  6. Real estate companies buy apartment complexes, make renovations, and then raise rents to exorbitant levels. 

  7. North Carolina law prohibits communities from imposing rent control.  I suspect that this law was created in response to lobbying from developers. 


UNC students want affordable housing - NOT luxury apartments.




  1. July 7, 2017 N&O story: "At another affordable housing complex in downtown Raleigh, residents have to move".

  2. August 24, 2016 N&O story:  "When the Sir Walter Apartments Building is sold, Raleigh may lose 140 Affordable Units"

  3. August 3, 2014 N&O story:  "Changes, Prices increases frustrate Chapel Hill apartment residents"  A teacher friend of mine couldn't afford the hike and moved to Vermont.


One issue about affordable housing is "Who should the affordable housing be for?"  In my opinion, priority should be given to teachers and police officers.  It should not be for students who wish to live off campus.


Video of CHALT forum on affordable housing


Affordable housing is also an issue for prestigious universities


Stanford has been building housing for its faculty, because nearby housing costs have gone through the roof.  [details]


(October 2, 2017) At a meeting I attended on affordable housing, Chapel Hill Mayor Pam Hemminger said that UNC-Chapel Hill has been mandated to grow by 275 students each year.  Because many students prefer to live off campus, that growth will drive up local housing costs and reduce the already limited supply of affordable housing.


Maryland has a solution to keep seniors in their homes:  Maryland's Homestead property tax credit


How do other countries handle the affordable housing issue?


Millennials's angry response to the housing crisis


"Rise of the YIMBYs:  the angry Millennials with a radical housing solution" (October 2, 2017, the Guardian) 


YIMBY:  "Yes in my backyard" - This is what the Urban Growth Machine want. 

NIMBY:  "Not in my backyard" - This is an aspersion that Urban Growth Machine uses to characterize anyone who opposes growth.  In Chapel Hill, CHALT has been accused of being NIMBY.


The YIMBY solution has several huge downsides:  Flooding, traffic, and loss of tree canopy (which exacerbates global warming).  All of those are negatively affecting Chapel Hill.


Ken Larsen's home page