For Many Charlotte Residents, Affordable Housing Still Isn’t Affordable

Over the last decade and a half, the city has put millions of dollars into affordable housing. But the help is not reaching Charlotte’s neediest residents.
October 25, 2018, 6am PDT | Camille Fink
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James Willamor

Affordable housing efforts are not bringing relief from rising housing costs for the lowest-income residents of Charlotte, North Carolina, reports Fred Clasen-Kelly and Julianna Rennie.

The city has already spent or earmarked $124 million, and a bond measure on next month’s ballot will ask voters to approve another $50 million. City officials have said that they are trying to help a wide swath of residents, in a city where starting salaries for professionals such as teachers and police officers are low and make it hard for people to handle housing costs.

“But unlike some other cities, Charlotte does not set aside a large portion of Housing Trust Fund money for people who have extremely low incomes. Places such as Pittsburgh, Detroit and Philadelphia have pledged that at least half of Housing Trust Fund money benefit their poorest residents,” say Clasen-Kelly and Rennie.

However, critics point to what they see as the Housing Trust Fund’s missteps, including a $5.6 million subsidy to a developer for a building with rents that will be out of reach for most very low-income residents and beds in homeless shelters being counted as affordable housing units.

City leaders, however, stand by their spending decisions and say they have helped people in Charlotte struggling with housing costs. “Mayor Vi Lyles said it is counter productive to debate who is the most deserving of government aid,” report Clasen-Kelly and Rennie.

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Published on Thursday, October 18, 2018 in The Charlotte Observer
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