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All About Aura

What is Aura

Aura is a project that is proposing to build almost 400 units of rental housing and approximately 59 units of homeownership in the form of 3-story townhomes on the corner of MLK Blvd. and Estes Drive. This is a critical spot in our town for affordable housing, including rental units. It sits directly on a transit corridor and bus rapid transit line. Community Home Trust supports this project as long as Aura complies with the Town’s Inclusionary Zoning Ordinance to build affordable housing units on-site. Aura has consistently maintained that they will provide over 40 rental units (15% of the total) as affordable at 65% and 80% AMI and self-manage these units.

At its meeting on May 12, 2021, Town Council opened the public comment period and heard from community members and stakeholders with their questions and concerns about the Aura proposal, many of which related to Aura’s proposed affordable housing plan. In the end, Town Council members stood strongly in favor of incorporating affordable homeownership units into the Aura plan in addition to the affordable rentals that have been proposed. They also encouraged the developers to offer more rental units at 65% AMI (rather than 80%). This is all great news! We are grateful to the leadership in Chapel Hill for always putting families first and supporting intergenerational wealth building in communities that would otherwise be unaffordable to Community Home Trust homeowners.

What’s next?

The public comment period remains open, and the Town Council will reconvene on May 26, 2021 to continue the conversation. In the meantime, we want to thank our council members for their strong support of inclusionary housing and ask them to continue to encourage Aura to work with us on formulating a workable inclusionary housing plan for the new development. We encourage you to do the same. Please consider reaching out by email to mayorandcouncil@townofchapelhill.org to express your support for inclusionary housing AND affordable rentals at Aura. Below are suggestions for what you might include in your email, but please make it as personal as you’d like! Also, please consider attending the virtual Town Council meeting on May 26, 2021 and speaking in favor of inclusionary housing AND affordable rentals at 60% AMI. You can register here.

Suggested scripts:

IF YOU LIVE IN INCLUSIONARY HOUSING:

My name is ____________, and I am a Community Home Trust homeowner. I live in inclusionary housing in the ____________ community. Thank you for your support for more inclusionary homeownership units in the proposed Aura development. It’s important to me that we continue to build more inclusionary housing in Chapel Hill, like the home I own, because ______________ . Please continue to encourage the developers of Aura to work with Community Home Trust to ensure homeownership units are included in their plans.

IF YOU ARE A COMMUNITY MEMBER:

My name is ____________, and I live in the ___________ neighborhood in Chapel Hill. Thank you for your support for more inclusionary homeownership units in the proposed Aura development. It’s important to me that we continue to build more inclusionary housing in Chapel Hill because ______________ . My experience with inclusionary housing is ________ (for example, I live in or near a neighborhood that includes affordable housing, or I benefitted from affordable housing myself in the past.) Please continue to encourage the developers of Aura to work with Community Home Trust to ensure homeownership units are included in their plans.

If you’d like to learn more, you can read a letter to Town Council from the Orange County Affordable Housing Coalition (of which Community Home Trust is a member) here, and a letter from Community Home Trust here.