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Policy meant to protect Charlotte tenants with vouchers now includes fines

Renee Rallos

Charlotte City Council has added some teeth to a policy meant to protect people trying to use vouchers or other subsidies to pay rent.

City Council voted last month to require those who own and operate properties receiving city support not to reject potential tenants based on how they would pay.

This policy now includes fines. If a violation has not been resolved after 30 days, owners will be fined $100 a day. If that continues after 180 days, they are on the hook for up to $23,000 for a first violation, $57,500 for a second and $115,000 for a third.

City Council member Victoria Watlington called it “a beginning” at Monday night’s meeting.

“Certainly, there’s going to be more work to do in terms of expanding our authority to make sure that that source of income protection expands past our public investment,” said Watlington. “But as it stands today, I’m happy to be raising my hand in support [of this].”

City Council has considered adding source of income as a protected class in Charlotte’s fair housing policy. That would’ve required all landlords to accept vouchers. However, that change would take state approval, which city leaders thought was unlikely.

Charlotte already requires owners and managers of developments receiving Housing Trust Fund money to take renters using subsidies. That consists of most of the housing the city supports. This policy expands to developers using other assistance, including Tax Increment Grants and community block grants.

According to Inlivian, a non-profit organization that aims to provide affordable housing in Charlotte, one out of five Housing Choice Vouchers in Charlotte expire before holders can use them, often because they can’t find a place to rent.

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Lisa Worf traded the Midwest for Charlotte in 2006 to take a job at WFAE. She worked with public TV in Detroit and taught English in Austria before making her way to radio. Lisa graduated from University of Chicago with a bachelor’s degree in English.