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Affordable Housing Plan Seeks To Provide New Options With Collaborative Website

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The city of Charlotte is investing $200,000 in federal money in a program to help people find affordable housing. It’s called HousingCLT. Think of it like the website Zillow where you can search for available homes, but with a focus on affordability. The city has set a goal to build 5,000 new affordable housing units in the next 3 to 5 years. But HousingCLT is faster and more cost-effective, says Brian Huskey, the project director.  

“It’s really impossible to build the solution fast enough to meet the need," Huskey says. "So why not take advantage of the existing resources, which are the units that are sitting vacant, that might be part of the solution to homelessness, rather than a barrier to it?” 

HousingCLT will be part of the website socialserve.com. The program recruits landlords willing to relax their screening criteria.  To convince landlords to participate, the program will establish two funds. One will be used to subsidize rents for people who can’t pay what landlords are asking. The other fund will pay landlords for residents that damage their property.  

HousingCLT will be seeking foundation and community donations for both funds. It’s modeled after a program in Seattle. There are similar programs in cities such as New Orleans and Minneapolis, says Steve Burg, vice president for programs and policy at the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

“Some places use some sort of insurance fund so if a landlord feels like the property has been damaged or the tenant did not pay the rent, that there would be some coverage for that. Building relationships with landlords in this was is one of the very important things that communities dealing with homelessness have done," Burg says. 

HousingCLT expects to begin in the fall.

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