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Charlotte Area

City Council Slows Effort To Revise Affordable Housing Policy

http://66.225.205.104/JR20101123b.mp3

The Charlotte City Council is putting the brakes on an effort to create a new policy about where affordable housing can be built. A final vote had been scheduled for December 13th, but city council members say public comments have them rethinking the policy they've been revising for nearly a year. At last night's public hearing, affordable housing advocates and developers voiced a common worry. "We're concerned that this policy - in a sincere effort to distribute low income housing - will make it too difficult to develop any," said Ken Schorr of the Homeless Services Network. The proposed policy would allow new subsidized housing only in neighborhoods the city deems "stable." Existing apartments could only be converted into affordable housing if the total amount of subsidized units in that neighborhood is less than 5 percent. That's a sticking point for developers like Pat Garrett of The Housing Partnership, which has had projects derailed by public opposition. "The five percent very much limits the amount of land that's available if it is all zoned properly," said Garrett. "We need additional land." Garrett and others want the 5 percent limit raised to at least 15 percent. On the other hand, a coalition of residents from East and West Charlotte asked the council to ban virtually all affordable housing construction in their neighborhoods for the next three years. Those communities have the highest concentration of low-income housing in the city, but also some of the most affordable land for prospective developers. The City Council is trying ting to create a policy that will encourage new affordable housing without overburdening any given neighborhood. A final vote on the policy has been delayed until sometime early next year.