The Greensboro City Council passed the new $50 million plan to improve affordable housing at its meeting last week.

There are strange things done at virtual City Council meetings and this would be one of them. Not because the City Council unanimously passed the $50 million 10 year plan to improve access to and the conditions of affordable housing in the city, because that is one of the stated priorities of the City Council, but because the “Housing GSO Creating Opportunities to Build a Better Community” plan was passed on the consent agenda.

The consent agenda is a grouping of items that are supposed to be routine and housekeeping items that are all passed with one vote. There were 23 items on the consent agenda for the Oct. 20 meeting including items to approve the minutes of previous meetings, a contract to buy tires, a list of minor budget amendments and buying computer software.

Along with those items was the $50 million, ten-year affordable housing program that city staff working with consultants had taken over a year to develop and that the City Council had spent two work sessions discussing.

It was a long agenda and a long meeting, but this does seem to be the type of item that at least deserved to be read at a televised meeting and perhaps have a comment or two made about it. Passing a ten-year, $50 million plan hardly seems routine and the city staff didn’t seem to think it was so routine because the staff put out a press release about the new affordable housing plan. There was no press release about approving the minutes or any of those other items.

The plan will begin implementation in 2021 and includes buying and rehabilitating multi-family developments to use for affordable housing. The goal is to add 6,000 affordable housing units in Greensboro.

The plan also targets certain neighborhoods for rehabilitation of private housing and public areas. The neighborhoods being targeted for special attention include Dudley Heights, Glenwood, Random Woods, King’s Forest and the Mill District. The idea expressed in the study is that if the city will invest enough money to start the process of renewing those neighborhoods, private dollars will be attracted to those areas to complete the renewal process.