The Greensboro City Council constantly bemoans the affordable housing crisis, but when the opportunity arises to do something about it, it consistently decides to wait.

The discussion on funding affordable housing projects at the Tuesday, May 2 meeting was extremely difficult to follow.

The City Council – after a lengthy, confusing, often off the topic discussion – voted 5 to 3 to accept the recommendation of Housing and Neighborhood Development Director Michelle Kennedy and allocate $2.5 million in housing bond money to Green Light Development LLC.

Councilmembers Zack Matheny, Tammi Thurm and Nancy Hoffmann voted no, but not because they didn’t want to fund Greenlight.  Councilmember Hugh Holston was absent.

In fact, almost none of the discussion was about the Greenlight project, which is to build a 52-unit multifamily development at 515 Kallamdale Road with 24 units targeted for those under 30 percent of the average median income (AMI), 17 units for those under 50 percent AMI, and 11 units for those under 60 percent AMI.

The reason the three councilmembers stated for opposing the motion was that they were in favor of funding all three affordable housing projects that applied for the funds.  Affordable Housing Management Inc. had applied for funding for two projects – one for 84 units at 2943 Vandalia Road and the other for 60 units at 201 Windhill Court.

Matheny noted that the city had the housing bond funds to cover all three projects and attempted to make a motion that all three be funded instead of only the Greenlight project. For some reason that is not entirely clear – because the Greensboro City Council does not use Robert’s Rules of Order to run its meetings – Matheny’s motion was ruled out of order.

Adding to the confusion were three black contractors who Councilmember Sharon Hightower had invited to speak at the meeting.  None of the three had put in a bid for these housing bond funds.  Two of the contractors said they had come to the meeting to introduce themselves to the City Council.

Why they were allowed to speak during a discussion on an agenda item – when they were not there to speak on the agenda item – is simply another one of those mysteries about how City Council meetings are run.

According to the procedure the City Council usually follows, the three contractors should have spoken during the public forum, also called “speakers from the floor on non-agenda items.”  Even councilmembers expressed confusion about why those speakers were part of the discussion.

The argument against funding all three projects that were on the agenda was that funding all three would use up all of the currently available housing bond money.

The majority of the City Council voted to keep some housing bond money in the bank rather than allocate it for affordable housing projects.