Yes, I’m Movin Blacks Yonder

In a recent article in IndyWeek, Brent Woodcox made a not so startling admission, “neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh are now a target for redevelopment because the predominantly white, wealthier neighborhoods inside the Beltline have made it essentially impossible to build new housing”. From a developer’s vantage point, cheap land (for now) is in Southeast Raleigh. Time to grab it.

Woodcox admits that now that many neighborhoods, including downtown, are being built out and have peaked in value, the only place for developers to go are the poorer neighborhoods in Southeast Raleigh where they can buy property for less. The result? A type of gentrification where renters are evicted and left homeless.

What is Woodcox’s solution? Subsidies. According to Woodcox, “subsidies will be necessary to bridge the gap that the market will not fill on its own. The alternative is turning our backs on our neighbors and adding to our city’s homeless population.”

Note that Woodcox is specially positioned to advocate not only for subsidies but also for solutions such as new state laws for eviction reform and allowing cities to mandate that builders construct affordable rather than luxury housing. He is an attorney in the State Legislature and advises Phil Berger and other leading GOP representatives in the House and Senate. He was the lead attorney for racial gerrymandering to disenfranchise Blacks at the ballot box. Subsidies, eviction reform, and mandatory affordable housing have not been and will not be forthcoming from Woodcox or his bosses.

Lastly, Woodcox admits what insiders already know. He is the voice, face, and author of YIMBY Raleigh. As Woodcox writes for IndyWeek, YIMBY Raleigh is “a website and social media accounts run by one person—me. No one else posts to those pages, funds the activities, or works on the content. I have worked on the project for two years without pay because I wanted to see better leaders on Raleigh City Council.”

Woodcox’s position is simple and understandable. Southeast Raleigh is where the cheap land is. He is hopeful that Progressive Democrats will agree with him and make that land easily accessible to developers regardless of the consequences for displacement.

I am hopeful that Progressive Democrats will take a more thoughtful and truly workable approach to the problem. Let’s settle YIMBY Raleigh’s signature issue of “granny flats” in the first weeks of the new Council and turn our attention to how we can really address gentrification and forced evictions and stop “movin Blacks yonder.”