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Where to build affordable housing? Council revising policy

Low income advocates say Charlotte is in desperate need of thousands of affordable housing units and city officials tend to agree. But where to put those apartments is a tricky question. By the end of the summer, the Charlotte City Council hopes to have a better idea. At least three times in three separate Charlotte neighborhoods over the last year, efforts to build new affordable housing have turned ugly. Ballantyne homeowners worried what an affordable housing complex would do to their property values. So did folks living in the up-and-coming Ayrsley community. And in Druid Hills, people complained they already had more than their fair share of assisted housing and homeless shelters. In each case, the city's ten-year-old "housing locational policy" came under scrutiny. It was designed to promote diversity and make sure all of Charlotte's affordable housing didn't cluster in one neighborhood. But the definition of such "clusters" is changing, says Charlotte's Neighborhood and Business Services director Pat Mumford. "As more people come to town, there's clearly going to be more concentration of affordable housing," says Mumford. And even one more house in a neighborhood can feel like too much to some people, he notes. Now the City Council is revising the locational policy - and bracing for opposition from neighborhoods that could find themselves newly open to affordable housing development. The council's Housing and Neighborhood Development committee will unveil a revised version of the policy tomorrow. Public forums will be held throughout the summer. The City Council hopes to approve a new housing locational policy in October.