Leon Cooke is a native New Yorker (Manhattan) who has lived with his wife, Patricia, in Raleigh for 27 years. He is retired from an IT position with application systems for an insurance company in Chicago. He’s active in social justice ministries in his church, active in the Congregations for Social Justice Housing Committee, often attends and comments at City Council meetings regarding ‘affordable’ housing issues and is a core team member of his church’s ONE Wake team.

Leon delivered the following comments to City Council on June 6, 2023 at the budget public hearing:

You say that you are for affordable housing. What is your definition of affordable?? 100% AMI is affordable if you have the means. As is 80% AMI. But, when we are supposed to be talking affordable, we should be talking about 40% AMI and 30% AMI or below. Perhaps we should change affordable to low-income housing so we don’t conflict with the 100%ers. You give developers a pass on providing “affordable” units in their projects under the guise of State Assembly rules. You fought for election rules to benefit you, but you won’t fight for residents who are in need of housing. They may throw in a few units at 60% AMI and feel good about it. We are NOT!

This budget does NOT adequately provide for affordable housing, despite the $80 million bond. The parks bond is $250 million. Apparently the Dix Park and Smoky Hollow Parks are more important than making sure our residents are properly and affordably housed. The small amount allocated for rehabbing naturally occurring housing is not getting the job done. What is being done about it? A multi year wait for renovations is causing people to abandon or sell the property to developers.

Oh, and the proposal to fund/refund e-bikes! Really!! Although this is a federally funded program, providing up to 75 units is really going to put a dent in people getting around. Many can barely make the increased property taxes imposed on them, if at all, and you want them to purchase an e-bike, subsidy or no? Why not make ALL the budget money appropriated for the e-bikes available to low-income residents and not subsidize those in the 80 – 100% brackets?

As to Dix Park, why not spend funds to modernize some of the existing buildings to provide for mental health services, since it was moved out and there is so much more need for it now. Also, accommodating many of the homeless should also be a priority to support your concern for our lesser well off neighbors.

With all the annexation cases, particularly the current Z-16-20, what provision is being made in the budget to provide the infrastructure to access roads, traffic and police and fire protection? Also, where is the analysis on the impact of all the new housing on the water supply?

If you appreciate the kind of reporting we bring to you

Please donate $10 or $20,
or whatever you can
to Livable Raleigh.

Thanks for supporting
your local watchdog!