Voters split on affordable housing stance from U.S. Senate candidates Tillis and Cunningham

Tillis-Cunningham Debate

The race for U.S. Senate in North Carolina is as important as the race for the White House. The winner could decide which party will control the U.S. Senate for the next two years. 

A recent Fox News poll shows that Senate Thom Tillis (R) is behind challenger Cal Cunningham (D) 48% to 42% among likely voters. 

At the top of voters’ minds as they go to the polls are:

  1. Crime and Public Safety
  2. Cost of Living
  3. Affordable Healthcare 
  4. The Economy and Jobs
  5. Affordable Housing

For single mother, Teresa Guilford, affordable housing is more important to her this year than in years past “by about 200%,” she explained. 

The Winston-Salem mother lost her job at a local hotel at the start of the pandemic. Since then, she’s been close to eviction and hopes her vote in November will change her housing situation and those around her. 

“I just want to know what they’re going to actually act on,” she said of Senator Tillis and Cunningham. 

In North Carolina, there are 188,866 fewer affordable housing units this year, according to The National Low-Income Housing Coalition.

While in office, Senator Tillis has brought $30 million into Winston-Salem for affordable housing. After the grant’s approval, Sen. Tillis wrote, “After working with Mayor Joines, the city of Winston-Salem, and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development Agency, I am proud we were one of four projects selected to receive funding for this grant that will allow the city to connect two important neighborhoods. I want to thank Secretary Carson and President Trump for this $30 million grant that will help Winston-Salem bring the community together, provide a new elementary school, and develop much-needed affordable housing.” (Click here for more.)

A spokesperson for Cal Cunningham’s campaign said “Cal believes the federal government has a role to play in ensuring that more Americans have the means to afford safe, reliable housing for their families. Whether through grant programs or a major infrastructure package, Cal supports investing in building more affordable housing units, especially in rural communities and communities of color. In the Senate, Cal would work to put an end to racist practices like redlining while also fighting to raise the minimum wage to ensure more can afford and have access to the dream of homeownership.” (Click here for more.)

In Guilford’s eyes, these are good starts, but she wants to know more about what he has already put into motion. 

“What have you actually activated so far to make sure those plans that your foreseeing for the future and present is expedited correctly?” Guilford said. For her, she wants the candidates to lay out their plan to bring more local ownerships to affordable housing locations within city limits. 

Other voters who remain on the fence, want to know what other options will become available regarding affordable housing. 

Senior citizens, like Virginia Martin, fear that affordable housing will always be limited to just low-income apartments.

“These are basically projects because the few low-income apartments out here, they are not getting to the right people,” she explained. “You say affordable housing, but it’s always associated with apartments. Why can’t more be done for affordable houses and help get us in them?”

Martin said she does not trust Sen. Tillis’ approach going forward, however, she is not entirely sold on Cunningham’s approach either.

“Raising the minimum wage. Yes it will help…but it’s going to put people in a different tax bracket, and their rent is going to go up,” she said.

As both candidates take the debate stage on Sept. 22, both women will listen closely with hopes that their questions will be answered. 

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