Checking In: The Impact of the Northside Neighborhood Initiative & Land Bank

Published for Community and Economic Development (CED) on March 08, 2018.

The Northside Neighborhood Initiative (NNI) is a collaborative effort among Northside residents, the Jackson Center, Self-Help, UNC, the Towns of Chapel Hill and Carrboro, as well as the area affordable housing agencies. Together, they work towards honoring the history of the Northside neighborhood while maintaining and strengthening its vibrant and diverse community fabric. Northside was highlighted in a previous blog post and how the initiative leveraged local anchor institutions to build their land bank model. 

Since the launch of the initiative in March 2015, progress has been made in the following areas:

  • Increasing homeownership
  • Balancing student rentals with family households
  • Supporting long-term Northside residents and improving retention

There are various aspects of the initiative that have aided with progress in these areas. A key portion being the implementation of the land bank model itself. Self-Help and the Jackson Center handle the acquisition, management, and disposition of properties using the $3 million “revolving loan” from UNC. To date the land bank as acquired 20 parcels, and several more are under contract and closing soon.

Various area affordable housing partners have purchased property from the land bank, such as Community Home Trust, EmPOWERment, Inc., and Habitat for Humanity. In addition to organizational support, the Town’s financial support helps to fund a full-time Northside based construction manager – Dustin Rawlings with Rawlings Contracting, LLC. Having an in-house construction manager assists with quicker and high quality development of land bank properties, which helps homeowners and development partners purchase the homes at a lower cost. This same system has a further impact on the local economy because the NNI Construction manager allows better utilization of small contractors and different minority and women owned businesses for construction services through the initiative’s Promise of Home repair program.

As of 2017, there are 14 properties (or units) under land bank ownership. 12 properties were sold out of the land bank either to partner nonprofits or to homebuyers. Five of the 12 properties were rehabbed by Self-Help. This home repair program is a critical component of the initiative. The Jackson Center manages the program application process and is responsible for coordinating emergency repairs, while the technical assessment and repair work pieces are coordinated by Habitat for Humanity and Rebuilding Together of the Triangle. Promise of Home has completed 12 emergency repairs – things like pest treatment, HVAC and roof repair -, 27 critical repairs that ranged from roof replacement to complicated structural repairs, and five critical repairs in progress. The funds for home repair has been a combination of Town of Chapel Hill funds and foundation monies from Oak Foundation. These funds from Chapel Hill ($75,000 for the first five critical home repairs, and over $200,000 from the Oak Foundation have helped to build the Promise of Home program that exists today.

The Northside Neighborhood Initiative represents several things. It exemplifies collaborative community investment, planning, and the strength of partnerships across sectors. More importantly it showcases the significant impact having a comprehensive approach to address the needs and goals of a multi-generational community through active community engagement and creative community finance truly has on the quality of life and identify of such a historic and cherished neighborhood. 

Stephanie Watkins-Cruz is a dual-degree student in the Master of Public Administration and Master of City & Regional Planning programs at UNC-Chapel Hill and a Community Revitalization Fellow with the Development Finance Initiative.

Topics - Local and State Government