Raleigh homeowners want property tax relief. Local elected leaders to respond tonight.

·4 min read

Listen to our daily briefing:

Subscribe: Apple Podcasts | Spotify | Amazon Alexa | Google Assistant | More options

When Vicki Hewitt’s father died she inherited his Rochester Heights home.

It was the modest house she grew up in.

“My plan is to move back into that house and do some renovations,” she said. “But I’m not certain what I’m going to do because the property taxes are steadily going up. And it’s really concerning to me. I don’t know what I’m gonna do.”

A neighbor reached out about local groups pushing for a program that could help long-time homeowners pay their tax bills.

One Wake, a nonprofit coalition of religious congregations, is holding a meeting Thursday night to hear “testimony from directly impacted homeowners” and to see if elected officials will agree to work with the nonprofit. Members of the Raleigh City Council and the Wake County Board of Commissioners have agreed to attend in person or virtually.

“It’s the goal to keep long-time, low-income homeowners in their homes,” said Stephon Whitley, an organizer with One Wake. “And to keep those homes in their families so that they can pass them down and not lose generational wealth.

Wake County’s most recent revaluation took effect last year. On average, homes increased 20% in value from four years earlier, The News & Observer reported, while commercial properties increased 33%.

Taking inspiration from Durham and Mecklenburg counties, One Wake wants Wake County and Raleigh to offer a property tax relief program for homeowners who have lived in their homes for 10 years or more, who earn up to 80% of the area median income and who pay more than 2% of their household income on property taxes.

Rising property values and property taxes are a concern for Habitat for Humanity of Wake County and its homeowners. That’s one reason it partnered with One Wake on this initiative, said Jacquie Ayala, director of advocacy for Habitat.

“I think there’s a very clear disproportionate impact on low-income residents and residents of color in Raleigh,” she said. “And the truth is not everybody is benefiting from the economic growth that Raleigh is experiencing. And so I think part of the problem that we’re trying to address with this intervention is that we need to actually do more for those residents who have invested their whole lives here.”

Property taxes are the largest source of income for municipalities and counties to cover the cost of services. State law doesn’t let local governments create their own property tax exemptions, but cities and counties have covered a portion of the taxes through their departments of social services and other means.

Raleigh Mayor Mary-Ann Baldwin plans to address the group virtually Thursday night.

“This is a complicated topic, and I am open to further discussion,” she said, referencing current property tax relief programs already available in Wake County and the state. “As a first step, we need to do more to promote these so low-income seniors, the disabled and veterans can get immediate relief. I am hoping One Wake will assist in these efforts. And I look forward to working with them and the county to identify ways we can assist those in need.”

Those three programs, the homestead exclusion, the circuit breaker deferment and the disabled veteran exclusion, only apply to narrow subsections of the population.

Fewer than 6,000 residences received one of the three exemptions this year, according to Marcus Kinrade, Wake County’s tax administrator.

Those programs can help some of the poorest people in the county, but don’t reach everyone who needs help, Hewitt said.

Nurses, teachers, police officers and others shouldn’t need two or three jobs to pay their property taxes, she said.

“In community, you know, the children, you know the grandchildren,” Hewitt said. “That’s no longer. We’re just this big place with a lot of traffic and a lot of buildings. And no commitment. Absolutely no commitment to each other as citizens anymore.”

Want to attend?

When: 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 21, 2021

Where: Southeast Raleigh Table, 1950 New Bern Ave., Raleigh

The event will be streamed virtually. People can register at www.onewake.org/raleightaxaction

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting