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Charlotte agency needs more landlords for people with rental subsidies


A Charlotte agency that helps homeless and low-income people find places to livehomes says it's running short on landlords willing to take in the people they work with.

Housing Collaborative — formerly known as Socialserve — has 169 households waiting for a place to move into. The majority had rental subsidies, said president and CEO Tara Peele, and all came referred by local homeless and subsidy providers, such as Inlivian, Roof Above and The Salvation Army.

But homes for those individuals and families have been growing harder to come by, Peele said. So far, her agency had moved in 108 households this year, while the number of people coming to them in need of homes continues to grow.

The problem, Peele said, is a tight housing market with a shortage of low-cost units and a shortage of landlords willing to take in her clients.

"We're only adding a few property providers per month now, and we really need that to kind of explore," she said.

Peele said the organization has been locating about three to four new property owners each month, while taking on an average of 25 to 30 new households in the same period.

The agency is now putting out the call for more landlords who can sign on for guaranteed rent, tenants who come with case managers who can help resolve conflicts, and a chance to do some good in the community.

"Everyone has needed a second chance sometime in their life, and so if you would like to become someone else's second chance, you're in a position to do so," Peele said.

Peele said the organization has seen exponential growth in demand over the last few years. According to Peele, the number of households referred to the agency doubled from 2019 to 2020 — from about 100 to 207.

Then in 2021, the number of referred households jumped to 351, and Peele said the number of referrals this year is on pace to surpass last year's total.

Peele said the agency was planning to hire more staff to help with the increased workload. She also encouraged landlords with available properties to contact the agency through its website to help them find homes for their clients.

Housing Collaborative isn't the only local agency that has struggled to find landlords to take in people with rental subsidies.

Mecklenburg County's Community Support Services also grappled with a shortage of landlords when looking for homes for the former residents of a homeless encampment near uptown Charlotte dubbed "Tent City."

The number of low-cost units in Mecklenburg County has fallen dramatically over the last several years, according to a 2021 report by Mecklenburg County and UNC Charlotte's Urban Institute. The report found Mecklenburg County lost roughly 25,000 units renting for under $800 between 2011 and 2019.

The report found rents were steadily rising due to growing demand from a booming population for a limited supply of homes and apartments in Mecklenburg County.

Corrected: August 4, 2022 at 3:28 PM EDT
An earlier version of this story quoted an incorrect figure from Housing Collective. The agency has clarified that it moved in 108 households so far in 2022, not 38.
Nick de la Canal is an on air host and reporter covering breaking news, arts and culture, and general assignment stories. His work frequently appears on air and online. Periodically, he tweets: @nickdelacanal