When you imagine your ideal neighborhood, what do you experience? Perhaps you see beautiful homes with colorful, abundant gardens. Maybe you feel the warm summer evening air as you walk or drive down a shady, peaceful street to the grocery store, just a few minutes away.
Maybe you smell smoky-sweet barbecue cooking on your neighbor’s grill as the two of you chat and catch up. You might hear your kids’ or grandkids’ shrieks of joy as they get lost in their imaginations on your neighborhood’s playground. You and your neighbors are rooted in this community: working together to make it a wonderful place to raise families, work, rest, and play.
Affordable homeownership brings this kind of community to life. When folks aren’t stressed about making rent, they’re free to put down roots. They have the power to invest in their community in new ways. As homeowners, they have dignity, stability, and self-confidence. With a place of their own to call home, they can imagine and build a future for themselves, their loved ones, and Chapel Hill-Carrboro itself.
Everyone deserves a safe, affordable, decent home. Unfortunately, sky-high rent and home prices are huge barriers to putting down roots in the community you love and becoming a homeowner. Let’s explore some of the barriers to homeownership and what we can do to uplift ourselves, our neighbors, and our community.
Rising rent and home prices are driving our neighbors out of the communities we love
You and your family are likely feeling the effects of the rising cost of living, like so many Americans. Rent and home prices are rising, and wages aren’t increasing to keep up. The affordable housing crisis is getting worse, and Orange County is feeling its full force.
According to The Daily Tar Heel, “average housing costs have increased by 37% in Chapel Hill” since 2017. Too many hardworking families have to move frequently to find affordable rent. These families often end up further away from their jobs and career advancement opportunities, their kids’ schools, and the neighborhoods they love. They can’t build generational wealth to support their kids and Orange County’s future.
Homeownership is the best way for families to put down roots, foster financial stability, and build generational wealth. The catch-22 our community faces is that you need considerable wealth in the first place to become a homeowner. It’s hard to build from the ground up. Our community’s teachers, social workers, and food service, retail, and hospitality workers are getting left behind.
Affordable housing benefits Orange County as a whole, not just individual households. When more folks can become homeowners, they’re empowered to put down deep roots in this beautiful place we call home. Through their work. Their civic engagement. Their kids. Their very spirit.
Our neighbors don’t have the support they need to prepare for homeownership / We need practical tools to prepare for homeownership / Practical support and encouragement can help prepare our neighbors for homeownership
The home-buying process is daunting, especially in this economy. Many of us feel unprepared and intimidated when trying to figure out how to become homeowners. What’s more, financial literacy is rarely taught in schools. Often through no fault of our own, many of us stumble into the home-buying process without knowing some best practices that can help us become homeowners.
Thankfully, your friendly neighbors at Community Home Trust offer comprehensive educational workshops on topics from financial literacy to home maintenance. CHT provides ongoing encouragement and practical tools for success before and after handing over your new house keys. You don’t have to feel alone or intimidated – your community is here for you.
Our neighbors of color face even more barriers to homeownership
It’s a challenge for anyone with a low to moderate income to find a home in our current climate. However, our neighbors of color face additional barriers to homeownership that their white counterparts don’t. Racism isn’t just a barrier to putting down roots. It’s a force that often uproots our neighbors of color, with gentrification driving them out of the neighborhoods they love.
According to the National Association of Realtors, the homeownership rate stands at 43.4% for Black Americans and 51.1% for Hispanic Americans in 2022. The study also shows that Black and Hispanic home loan applicants were rejected at higher rates than white and Asian applicants. Black households also tend to carry more student debt than other households, which can be another obstacle to homeownership.
Putting down roots as a community
You may be wondering, how can I break down these barriers and help my neighbors put down roots? Here are some things you can do TODAY to support your neighbors in the affordable housing crisis.
- You can share this blogpost with four friends or family members to connect them to Community Home Trust’s resources and invite them to join the fight against the affordable housing crisis. Talking to your family and friends about the barriers to homeownership your neighbors face will help more folks find the stability and peace of mind they need.
- If you are dreaming of becoming a homeowner yourself, you can learn about our Chapel Hill-Carrboro program here, and about our Durham Down Payment Assistance Program here. Our friendly staff would love to hear from you and help determine your eligibility!
- If you are able and feel so inclined, you can make a gift to help your neighbors secure a home to call their own. With a gift of just $25, $100, or $250, you are giving your neighbors the opportunity to build a brighter future for their families and for Orange County. THANK YOU so much for your support and compassion!
When you stand up for you and your neighbors’ right to a safe, affordable, decent home, you’re making a more rooted, connected future for our community possible. Let’s care for one another. Let’s see how strong and vibrant our community can grow when we give everyone the chance to put down roots.