How can we solve Chatham County’s affordable housing crisis?

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How can we solve Chatham County’s affordable housing crisis?Chatham’s housing crisis has been exacerbated by the influx of workers who have begun to arrive at Mountaire Farm’s new chicken plant in Siler City.


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“Connecting the curious across the county”
January 18, 2019

Chatham County’s affordable housing connundrum


Eva Ellenburg, a student journalist at UNC, writes for Our Chatham that the county’s housing crisis has been exacerbated by the influx of workers who have begun to arrive at Mountaire Farm’s new chicken plant in Siler City. The expected influx of immigrant workers at the plant, which is slated to be fully operational soon, will test the county “in bigger ways than we’ve seen in a while,” Ilana Dubester, director of the nonprofit immigrant advocacy group Hispanic Liaison, told Eva. 

The eviction of more than two dozen families from a mobile home bought by Mountaire Farms near the new chicken plant  — and most of those families’ inability to stay in Chatham County — points to an issue city and county officials say they want to solve. 

Why isn’t there enough affordable housing in Chatham County? What are city and county officials going to do to solve the problem? Eva spent time with a woman who navigated the housing shortage after being evicted, and spoke with policymakers and city and county offiicals to find out. Read the full story.

Do you have a question about affordable housing in Chatham County? Ask us a question or shoot us an email, and we’ll dig up your answers. 

An eye on construction

What’s changed for Chatham County’s biggest projects? And how does the county pay for them? Our Chatham contributor Eva Ellenburg reports that currently, 7.7 cents of the property tax rate goes directly into the debt reserve for county projects over $100,000 in the Capital Improvement Plan. County officials also predict a need to borrow money to fund the high costs of the two emergency management projects and the central services building project.

Here’s what county officials have prioritized through fiscal year 2026:

Emergency Communications Radio Project

  • The project upgrades the Chatham County Emergency Communications Radio System to improve limited emergenc service coverage. The radio project will include the construction of three new tower sites, estimated to cost $18.9 million, and expected to be completed in 2021. 

Emergency Operations Center 

  • The second project will provide additional console space for 911 operators at the Emergency Operations Center, estimated to cost $10 million and to be completed in 2020 or 2021. The project accommodates the increasing number of the county’s 911 operators and corresponds with the radio project. 

Detention Center Generator Project

  • The $674,000 generator would be installed in 2023 and prepare the detention center for prolonged power outages. When the jail lost power during Hurricane Michael, the current generator only powered one water heater for the kitchen while showers went cold.

High School Track Project

  • The resurfacing of athletic tracks at Chatham Central, Northwood and Jordan-Matthews High Schools is expected to cost $474,000 and be completed in 2022.

Central Services Building Project

  • The plan revised the estimated cost of the future Chatham County Schools Central Services Building, a 34,000-square-foot, two-story facility providing space for offices, meeting rooms and storage for school administration. The new offices are expected to cost $5 million more than expected, increasing the project’s budget from $6 million to $11 million.   

🏫 The Board of Commissioners met Thursday morning to discuss schools and an initial look at the county’s budget situation. 

🍔 Pittsboro Rotary meets at the Pittsboro Roadhouse every Wednesday from 12 – 1 p.m. Come for lunch and learn more about the Rotary’s community service projects. 

🍞 Learn to bake homemade bread at St. Bartholomew’s Episcopal Church in Pittsboro this Saturday, Jan. 19 from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. 

🐦 Join a park ranger to learn about birds at the Lower Haw River State Natural Area on Saturday, Jan. 26, 10 a.m. 

Government Calendars

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Thanks for reading! Now, if you wouldn’t mind helping us out…
Our Chatham is an experimental project produced by Reese News Lab at the UNC School of Media and Journalism. We want to provide Chatham County with a news source it deserves, but we need your help to make this newsletter the best it can be! 

We want to know what you like and/or dislike about this newsletter. Is there anything you wish we would add to the newsletter? Let us know by shooting an email our way at chatham@reesenews.org.
 

Any burning questions about Chatham County you wish you had an answer to? Send any Chatham-centric questions to us at chatham@reesenews.org, and we’ll do our best to investigate and answer your question in our next newsletter!



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