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Charlotte Area News

Town Hall Focuses On Economic Opportunity, Housing

Nick de la Canal

Charlotte Mayor Jennifer Roberts on Saturday held her first town hall since taking office in Dec. 2015, promoting a wide range of city initiatives including youth programs, community policing, and affordable housing.

The event was held at Pritchard Memorial Baptist Church in South End. The mayor was joined by several city leaders, including CMPD Police Chief Kerr Putney, Economic Development Director Kevin Dick, and Willie Ratchford with the city's community relations committee.

Roberts said the event was designed to showcase the city's efforts to tackle a number of challenges.

"Things like housing, lack of job opportunity in every part of the city, lack of access to transportation, we're working on all those things," Roberts said, "We want to be a place where every person has access to opportunity, not just people in certain neighborhoods."

On the city's initiative to create 5,000 units of affordable housing by 2020, Pamela Wideman with city government's Neighborhood and Business Services office said the city is 38 percent of the way there, adding that she was confident they would meet the goal within three years.

Chief Putney addressed the city's homicide rate, which remains well above normal, saying the department has begun conducting conflict-resolution seminars in the community. He said the department was doing what it could to reduce the homicide rate, which he said was on pace to eclipse 80 murders by year's end. In 2016, by comparison, the city had 68 murders.

On the city's overall crime rate, Putney said the city was trending in the right direction. While the violent crime rate saw a spike at the beginning of the year, it's since tapered off to about 5 percent above where the city was at this same time last year.