Affordable Housing: Living on the Edge in Durham

Thank you joining us again. This post is Part 2 in our series on the Durham Affordable Housing Bond. If you didn’t catch Part 1: The Facts, click here.

So what is affordable housing anyway?

There are two standards to measure affordable housing. 1) percentage of income below AMI (Annual Median Income) qualifies a household for assistance for affording a home 2) percentage of income going toward housing should be no more than 30% for housing to be considered affordable.

What is the annual median income in Durham?

The annual median income for an entire household (pre-tax) for the Durham-Chapel Hill Metropolitan Statistical Area is $80,600.[1] Income is best understood by considering the number of individuals within one household. Below you can see what the percentage AMI is for a variety of households and income levels and what type of assistance they are usually capable of receiving.

How many households need affordable housing according to the AMI criteria?

Income Level 1 person household 2 person household 3 person household 4 person household Assistance Eligibility (approx..)
30% AMI $17,850 $20,400 $22,950 $25,450 Public Housing
60% AMI $35,640 $40,740 $45,840 $50,880 Low End of Affordable Home Ownership Programs
80% AMI $47,500 $54,300 $61,110 $67,850 High End of Affordable Home Ownership Programs
2019 Area Median Income for Durham-Chapel Hill MSA*[2] $59,425 $67,925   $76,430 $84,815 Affordable Housing is Market Rate

“According to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, nearly half of Durham households—53,525 to be exact—earn 80 percent of the AMI or less. (In 2018, that was about $72,000 for a family of three.) Eighteen thousand families earn less than 30 percent of the AMI, about $21,700.”[3]

How many households in Durham are in need of affordable housing using criteria 2?

Spending more than 30% of total income on housing is considered being cost-burdened by housing. According to the NC Housing Coalition, 31% of Durham County residents (39,582 households) are cost-burdened; 49% of renters (28,917 households) and 16% of homeowners (10,665 households) are cost-burdened.

How many new units will be provided through the bond/5-year plan?

New properties will add 863 affordable units, 405 market rate units will be added.[4] The number of spaces for public assistance cannot be decreased. The city estimates that 1,600 affordable units will be created and that 800 units will be preserved.

As you can see, the need for affordable housing is high in Durham. The bond and 5-year plan will have an impact, but we will still need to work hard as a community to make an affordable Durham a reality for all of us.


[1] NC Housing Coalition infographic. https://nchousing.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/01/NCH-CountyProfile-Durham.pdf

[2] Calculated by UMD using COD provided AMI levels of 30/60/80

[3] Sarah Willets, “What You Need to Know About the Largest Proposed Housing Bond Referendum in North Carolina History,” Indy Week, 2/26.

[4] Campaign website. https://www.durhamaffordablehousingbond.com/en/the-plan

Durham Affordable Housing Bond: The Facts

At UMD, we talk a lot about affordable housing. So, with a bond referendum on the ballot for November 5th, we realize we need to do our part by making sure that our donors, volunteers, and Durham neighbors can utilize us as a thought partner in that conversation. The purpose of this post is to round up and research information as we have it, and put it in your hands.

So, what are we voting on?

A 1.6 cent tax increase per $100 of assessed property value to fund a $95 million dollar affordable housing bond. Passage of the bond will leverage an additional $65 million of local and federal funds to create a $160 million 5-year plan (2020-2024) to combat Durham’s lack of affordable housing.

Who is paying?

The tax is directly aimed at property owners. Indirectly, it is possible that this fee or part of this fee may be passed on to renters when their landlords’ tax bill rises.

How much will the tax end up costing homeowners?

The average tax value of a home in Durham is $229,246 with a current property tax of $1,219. A 1.6 cent increase in property tax would add $37 to that tax bill.[1]

What will the bond pay for?

The city is presenting a wide-range of funding to address Durham’s affordable housing need. Take a look at this graphic we created using the line-item budgets and project descriptions from both the City of Durham’s website and the official Durham Affordable Housing Bond campaign site.

Homeless Programs will receive $10.5 million over 5 years. How does that affect UMD?

As you can see, much of this money is allocated to specific issues pertaining to homelessness, not all of which UMD will likely qualify for. When UMD applies for government grants, we usually qualify for “Emergency Shelter” and “Rapid Rehousing,” a line item which is set to receive $3.46 million. These terms often have specific funding designations for how and where funds can be used by an organization. Consider that it costs $3.8 million per year, including in-kind support, to operate UMD, and that multiple homeless service providers in Durham are likely to be eligible to receive portions of this funding. Activities listed under Homeless System Investments are important parts of the Durham Continuum of Care for the city’s homeless population, but they are not direct activities of UMD that would bring funding to our agency. UMD and others will need to apply for this funding in a competitive RFP (Request for Proposal) process.

The biggest chunk, $58.9 million, is for redeveloping Durham Housing Authority Projects, including the DHA Office. What are the four communities being redeveloped?

J.J. Henderson:  807 S. Duke Street (across from Durham Freeway and American Tobacco)

Forest Hills Heights: 700 S. Mangum Street (across from Durham Freeway and Durham Bulls Athletic Park)

Oldham Towers: 519 East Main Street (on block of E. Main and N. Dillard Street across from UMD)

Liberty Street: 131 Commerce Street (on block of Liberty Street and N. Dillard Street across from UMD and WTVD)

Durham has 14 DHA properties, why were these chosen and what’s the plan for the others?

These properties were chosen because “the downtown location will attract the financing necessary for the redevelopments to succeed.”[2] The goal is to “deconcentrate poverty by making these properties mixed income developments.”[3] Four other DHA properties were recently updated and the remaining six properties will be considered after the 5-year plan concludes.[4]

Stay tuned tomorrow to find out more about the affordable housing need in Durham and the expected impact on that need as outlined by the City of Durham.


[1] “One Page Informational Handout,”City of Durham Website, <https://durhamnc.gov/DocumentCenter/View/27969/One-Page-Informational-Handout>; “Facts and Figures Sheet” Durham Affordable Housing Bond Campaign website, <https://www.durhamaffordablehousingbond.com/en/overview>.

[2] FAQs, Campaign Website.

[3] The Plan, Campaign Website.

[4] FAQs, Campaign Website.