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Charlotte Finalizing Rules on Where to Build Subsidizing Housing

The question of where developers should be allowed to build new subsidized housing is back before the Charlotte City Council tonight. After a summer-long series of public forums, city staff have made key changes to the proposal. Here's what the city heard from people over the course of those forums. "There was a general consensus that affordable housing developments are acceptable - people do want them," says Pamela Lopez, housing services manager for the City of Charlotte. Lopez says people were concerned that new subsidized housing projects be required to look good and fit in with the neighborhood. As for the concern that building new subsidized housing brings down property values in a neighborhood? "Generally people thought they did not," says Lopez. Clearly the 160 or so people who attended the summer forums were not the same people who protested loudly enough to derail two new affordable developments earlier this year in Ballantyne and the Ayrsely neighborhood of southwest Charlotte. Still, the city has made a number of key changes to the policy that determines where new subsidized housing can be built. Originally the plan allowed unrestricted development of subsidized housing in neighborhood deemed "stable" by the city's annual quality of life study. But people worry that could backfire and actually destabilizing "stable" neighborhoods. So the city has now added a threshold to make sure that doesn't happen: no neighborhood statistical area should exceed more than five percent subsidized housing. Lopez says the five-percent rule would actually disqualify numerous stable neighborhoods from getting new subsidized housing. Neighborhoods the city deems less-than-stable would not be open to new subsidized housing, but developers may still be allowed to convert or rehabilitate existing buildings with subsidies. And the rules would now apply to all kinds of government subsidies - not just city money. Tonight, Lopez says the city council will get a list of exactly which of the city's 173 neighborhoods would have a green light for new subsidized housing. The council is planning a public hearing on the proposal November 22 with a final vote scheduled for December 13th.