Council sees draft of impediments to fair housing in Salisbury

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, May 22, 2019

By Liz Moomey

SALISBURY — Due to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on July 19, the Salisbury City Council on Tuesday received a presentation of the Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing Choice from the Centralina Council of Governments.

Victoria Avramovic, of the Centralina Council of Governments, detailed what the Fair Housing Commission, CCOG and city staff determined were issues of fair housing in the city.

The drafted analysis included five impediments and an action plan and long term plan for each. HUD requires an updated Analysis of Impediments, which was last drafted in 2014.

The impediments include:

• Lack of a formalized structure for a local fair housing system.

• Insufficient supply of adequate and affordable housing to meet the growing needs of low- and moderate-income residents including members of the protected classes.

• Public transportation limitations reduces housing choice for low-to-moderate and special needs populations.

• Lack of access to housing that accommodates special populations.

• Mortgage lending practices reduce homeownership opportunities for racial and ethnic minorities.

Council member Tamara Sheffield questioned which protected classes are not included in HUD’s determination, such as marital status, student, sexual orientation and age.

Avramovic said the city included items Sheffield questioned while looking at discrimination.

“However, through this program, without creating a policy or an ordinance, you can protect them,” she said. “Anybody who has the appearance of being discriminated against is in fact a protected class.”

Avramovic continued, saying some communities have seen difficulty finding housing after being released from prison. HUD has recommended communities to address these issues, she said.

“They have encouraged communities that receive funds to look at that and find ways to help elevate their opportunities in housing,” Avramovic said. “While it’s not yet federally included they’re saying look at things like that.”

Sheffield also question the time between the analysis.

Avramovic responded, saying though the city does not have to resubmit an Analysis of Impediments for another five years, the city should reevaluate its housing needs and accomplishments every year.

She said the analysis should be a living document that grows as the community and needs grow.

The 2014 Analysis of Impediments, there was more frequent denial of home purchase loans to racial and ethnic minority residents, differential impact of predatory style lending on members of racial and ethnic minority groups and lack of knowledge and access to the fair housing system. 

Ahead of the council presentation, the Fair Housing Committee with staff met three times to discuss the impediments and the action. It also surveyed residents, receiving 23 responses. The committee also had a focus group on fair housing challenges in February, with 14 representatives from social services, public transportation, local Realtors and community-based nonprofits, which determined the housing needs for special populations.

The analysis will have a 30-day comment period starting May 27. There will also be a public hearing at the June 4 City Council meeting.

Council will receive another presentation and approve the final report at its July 16 meeting.

In other business Tuesday:

• Mayor Al Heggins and Mayor Pro Tem David Post were absent at Tuesday’s meeting. Council member Karen Alexander chaired the meeting.

• Multiple people spoke during public comment about tennis courts being converted to pickleball courts at City Park. At the May 7 council meeting, members asked Parks and Recreation to give a presentation about the decision to convert the courts. The presentation is expected at the June 4 meeting.