Orange County is consistently ranked as one of the most expensive housing markets in North Carolina. For many historically working class and African-American neighborhoods, the high cost of housing is compounded by low wages and a lack of political and economic representation. Chapel Hill-based EmPOWERment Inc. has spent the last two decades providing residents of Northside, Carr Court, Pine Knolls, and Lloyd Street communities as well as those living in Hillsborough access to affordable housing and a collective voice on issues of inequity.
The need for EmPOWERment’s work has become increasingly critical as homes located in or near downtown areas are more and more appealing to students and young professionals, driving up prices for homes in traditionally African-American and working class neighborhoods. Earlier this year, EmPOWERment sought to purchase seven properties in the African-American and working class neighborhoods that it serves. The organization had secured $750,000 from Orange County Government to fund the $1 million acquisition, but needed quick access to the remaining $250,000 in capital before options on the seven homes came due. EmPOWERment Inc. Executive Director Delores Bailey worked with Initiative Capital to secure the needed $250,000 complete the project. Because of this investment in affordable housing, residents like Michael Baldwin are moving back into the neighborhood. Michael and his three-year-old daughter will be moving into their new home this month.
“EmPOWERment Inc. was founded on the principles of people connecting with and taking care of each other,” notes Delores Bailey, who has served as the organization’s executive director since 2005. “Our partnership with Initiative Capital has played a critical role in enabling us to seize opportunities for our neighbors, and to help maintain some measure of affordability in the communities where we work. Initiative Capital understands how important it is for non-profits like EmPOWERment Inc. to be able to continue to provide affordable housing for low- to moderate-income families.”
For Bailey, this latest collaboration with Initiative Capital demonstrates the value of working together to preserve and sustain communities. Her dedication and vision help put “boots on the ground” to Initiative Capital’s commitment to building thriving communities with opportunities for all.