by Billy Ball
Town and university leaders in Chapel Hill on Monday announced the latest step in preserving affordable housing in the town's historic Northside neighborhood.
UNC-Chapel Hill will grant a $3 million, no-interest, 10-year loan to help buy and resell properties in Northside, a historic black community that has become a rental destination for university students over the last two decades. Durham-based Self-Help will manage the loan, in partnership with the Jackson Center, a neighborhood nonprofit, and the town.
"This is a historic day for the Northside neighborhood," said Chapel Hill Mayor Mark Kleinschmidt in a release. "We have worked to address the issues of this neighborhood for decades, but have only been able to target the symptoms of this problem. Today we are offering an alternative that empowers the community to define its own future."
Self-Help will use the funds to buy properties and then sell or rent them at an affordable price. The group said its goal is to help long-term residents stay in the neighborhood and attract a "balance" of working families, seniors and students.
Area nonprofits have been attempting to preserve homes in the blue-collar neighborhood for many years, but have struggled to compete with deep-pocketed developers and real estate investors seeking to cash in on student rentals. The neighborhood, which is located less than a mile away from the university, was once a popular spot for university employees and their families.
On Monday, UNC-Chapel Hill Chancellor Carol Folt called it the university's "obligation" to assist in Northside.
“Years of working and planning here in Northside have created a clear and inspiring vision for the neighborhood’s future,” said Folt. “This loan from UNC-Chapel Hill will help make that vision a reality. It will ensure that Northside continues to be — as it always has been — a valuable and vital part of Chapel Hill.”