Housing cuts hurt
This year Habitat for Humanity of Orange County requested a total of $125,000 in HOME funding, exactly one-half of the HOME funding we asked for and received in 2011-12.
We voluntarily reduced our request because HOME funding for Orange County was being cut by almost 50 percent, not because of a decreased need on our part. Each year, Habitat takes into account not only our own need, but also the total funding available, and the many other affordable housing needs across the county.
If HOME funding were more plentiful this year, Habitat would have requested more. We are continuing to build homes in Phoenix Place, and last year, we received $175,000 in second mortgage assistance for 10 new homes there. This year we requested only $75,000 for 10 homes. The $100,000 difference will have a negative impact on our organization financially and on our ability to provide affordable housing to local families. One of the results of the reduced funding is that we are planning to build one fewer home in Phoenix Place next year.
Habitat also requested $50,000 for infrastructure construction for Tinnin Woods, a new Habitat subdivision of 28 affordable homes in Efland. We are grateful that the HOME Consortium is recommending about $75,000 for this project, but if HOME funding were more plentiful, we would have requested significantly more. The total infrastructure cost is about $600,000, and we are looking at borrowing funds at considerable cost to our organization and the families we serve.
The cuts in federal housing programs are deep, and the consequences are substantial. Advocacy at the federal level is important, but it is equally or more important at the local level. Affordable housing has been identified as a goal in the Chapel Hill 2020 process. We urge the council and staff to focus attention on increasing and making better use of local resources, and on moving forward with the implementation of the Affordable Housing Strategy adopted last June by the council. Susan Levy Executive director Habitat for Humanity of Orange CountyDont dismantle school
We are proud to be the parents of a student who attends Frank Porter Graham Elementary School.
A neighborhood school for 50 years, FPG is a uniquely diverse and thriving member of our community. Our students are part of a family; one that represents over 40 nationalities. Our principal, Dr. Bongarten, has led a committed and creative staff on a rigorous path of change and growth. Such change resulted in our school having shown the most academic improvement of all elementary schools in the district for the 2010-2011 school year! We have been named a School of Distinction to boot!
With so much to celebrate and take pride in, it is hard to understand why a team of school and district administrators would recommend completely changing our schools course by turning it into a Dual Language Magnet school instead? And yet, this is exactly what the administrative team is recommending to the school board.
In my opinion, the criterion upon which the recommendation was based is arbitrary at best. Additionally, a vulnerable population of Burmese refugees would be dispersed to other schools if this recommendation were to pass. This would remove them from the familiarity and safety of their neighborhood school; one they can walk to, enabling them to participate in school functions and activities. Another concern is that such a proposal would require drastic staff and programmatic changes to an educational environment that is finally, after many administrative setbacks, gotten back on its feet.
A Dual Language Magnet School may very well be a good idea for our district, but dismantling a thriving community school to achieve that goal is most definitely not.Rebecca and Hayden Bosworth CarrboroSave the real world
Three months ago a selected team of school administrators began work on a plan for implementing the Board of Educations priority for increasing dual language instruction in Chapel Hill Carrboro City schools. Notably this committee was completely devoid of any representation from Frank Porter Graham.
This plan threatens to scatter the children who currently attend FPG as well as the devoted staff of this 50-year old school while redistricting children from all over the school system to accommodate the opening of the systems 11th elementary school. This plan threatens to disrupt the school that serves the most diverse student population in the district including Karen refugees. This plan and the uncertainty it brings for students and staff threatens to reverse the tremendous academic gains made in the last two years by dedicated staff, students, and parents involved with FPG.
The introduction of a magnet school in Chapel Hill should be very carefully deliberated as it is a major change in the educational philosophy for our district. This precedent would pave the way for other special interest magnet schools to become established, such as magnets for the Arts, Gifted & Talented, etc. that would replace neighborhood schools. Certainly, if a magnet school is to be implemented it doesnt make sense to displace a currently functioning school population to do this. Why not open the magnet school in the new unpopulated elementary school No. 11 and relieve overcrowding in the schools currently housing dual language classes by moving them to this new facility?
My family chose to move into a home that zoned to FPG when we moved to Chapel Hill. We wanted our children to grow up at a neighborhood school experiencing the diversity that the real world would offer them. It saddens me that this rich diversity would be lost in the quest to establish a magnet school at FPG.Beth Duncan Chapel Hill Heres an idea
I have an idea that would reduce the number of traffic violations in my neighborhood by 90 percent or more.
We have five STOP signs in the subdivision. If four of them were changed to YIELD signs, that would do it.
There is a similar problem with the Right on Red rule, but I dont have an easy solution.Bob Boggs Chapel HillA hateful thing
I am the publisher of The Blotter, a magazine distributed throughout North Carolina. The proposed Amendment One could among many other hateful things forbid companies from providing equal benefits to their gay employees. I and my colleagues hereby state that if it passes, we will categorically refuse to obey it.
At the moment this is a moot point, since were so small and nonprofit we cant afford to pay anyone benefits, including ourselves. Its a matter of principles instead.
The principle that all our employees are American citizens, human beings and children of God, created in His image and loved by Him unconditionally (as in, UNCONDITIONALLY), and therefore deserve unconditionally equal recognition, respect, rights and benefits.
The principle that minorities should be protected from the tyranny of the majority, since if majorities got to vote on minority rights there wouldnt be any. (If civil rights had been put to referendums 60 years ago, Rosa Parks would still be at the back of the bus.)
And, the principle that if any institution such as marriage is so fragile that it needs discrimination, injustice, cruelty and Constitutionally mandated apartheid in order to survive, then it by God should be redefined.
We invite every organization, business and municipality in this state that supports equality, to stand with us and avow that no government or referendum on earth will ever force us to commit bigotry against our own people.Martin Smith Durham
This letter was also signed by Garrison Somers, Marilyn Fontenot, Laine Cunningham and Richard Hess.
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